10 July 2012
An update on the battle over austerity in the public sector
The PCS civil service union has announced it will build for coordinated national strike action with other unions in the autumn.
PCS members are also balloting to strike in a slew of other disputes over pay, working conditions, job cuts and privatisation. They include 1,500 members working for Atos on government IT and NHS healthcare contracts. Workers at the Home Office, HMRC and in DWP call centres are also balloting for strikes.
The announcement comes as the NUT and NASUWT teaching unions have agreed to join together in a coordinated campaign over pay and working conditions. The two unions’ agreement brings together unions representing 85% of all school teachers in an unprecedented joint campaign.
An NUT ballot on strikes and industrial action short of a strike, together with NASUWT members, has now started across England and Wales and will close on 6 September. The NUT’s pension strike ballot is still live – the new vote is to cover the additional issues of pay and working conditions.
The largest local government union, Unison, has announced it will ballot members who are eligible for the Local Government Pension Scheme on proposals to change the scheme.
Council workers in Unison were among those who struck over pensions in the huge public sector strike on 30 November last year.
But despite the brilliant show of strength by Unison members, general secretary Dave Prentis announced in December that Unison would enter negotiations with the government on the basis of ‘heads of agreement’ – a move that was a huge setback to the whole public sector pensions campaign.
Unison will ballot on proposals that come from these negotiations between 31 July and 24 August.
At last month’s Unite the Resistance conference, Unison activists slammed the new deal and a campaign to reject it has begun in many Unison local government branches.
The union is now consulting members, branches and regions before the five service group executives covering members of the LGPS scheme meet in mid-July to decide on a recommendation in the ballot.
It is important that as many Unison members, branches and other union bodies as possible urge rejection of the deal. The strike on 30 November showed the potential to force the government back and win a decent deal on pensions across the public sector – including local government.