Saturday 26 November 2011

November 30 - if Con-Dems don't retreat, escalate the action

OUR STRIKE ON 30 NOVEMBER is uniting millions of workers in a show of strength not seen in Britain for generations.

Thousands of schools will be closed to pupils as heads, teachers and support staff take action together to defend our pensions from a thieving government that wants us to pay for the chaos caused by unregulated banks and an unfettered market that puts the pursuit of profit before people’s needs.

The experience will lift the confidence of public sector workers to fight on until the pensions robbery is defeated - and to move on to defeat all the other attacks being made to our pay, conditions and public services. It will also lift the confidence of workers across Britain to stand up and join us in a fight for their jobs and services too.

No wonder Ministers have been desperate to try and stop the N30 action taking place ! Having refused any meaningful negotiations for months, they hoped that they could divide and confuse us with their last-minute ‘offer’.  But, steeled by the firm opposition from Left unions like the NUT and PCS, the answer from every union has been the same - ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Thanks - because even these inadequate concessions have exposed the government’s weakness in the face of united trade union opposition. No thanks -  because they still want us to work longer and pay more to get less pension.

The press will do their owners’ bidding and try to turn public opinion against us. But they are not succeeding. When unions have got their message out onto the streets and at the school gates, we have found support. People recognise that money cut from our pensions wouldn’t be going to boost private-sector pensions or state benefits. No, they want to rob our pensions to pay for the bankers’ bailouts  and to lower costs for the privateers buying up public services.

We need to make clear to the Con-Dems  that November 30 is not just a one-off token protest. If they do not back down from their pensions robbery, we will be back with further action in January.

We can’t afford to hesitate and leave it until after Xmas to make any concrete plans. Unions must quickly announce a clear plan and dates for further joint strike action.

No trade unionist can easily afford to lose pay but trade unionists will be ready to carry on the battle - as long as they understand that their leaderships have a serious plan in place to win this struggle.

The key to victory is widespread co-ordinated national action involving as many unions as possible, applying the level of pressure that can force this government into serious negotiations.

Plans for rolling regional joint action being proposed by the NUT can certainly play a part in maintaining momentum. But it would need careful co-ordination with other trade unions to be effective. 

Joint national strike action, bringing everyone together on a day - or even two days of action - remains the key strategy. Unions should certainly consider calling a 48-hour strike next term.

So let's have a huge turnout on November 30, but then let’s build for:
●    A further national strike of at least one-day as soon in 2012 as possible.
●    A programme of action co-ordinated across as many unions as possible.
●    Step up our public campaign in every town and city - ‘Fair Pensions for all!’

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