Monday 19 December 2011
Pensions - Union leaders under pressure from all sides
A lively lobby of the TUC this afternoon made sure that every delegate attending the key meeting of the Public Sector Liaison Group knew how strongly trade union members felt about the worrying suggestions that some public sector unions were about to sign an unacceptable deal on pensions.
On the steps of Congress House, Mark Serwotka made a strong defence of the PCS' stand in refusing to cave-in to the bullying tactics of the Government. Unfortunately reports suggest that some unions seem ready to sign-up to the 'Heads of Agreement' letter setting out the principles of the Government offer, even though none of the fundamentals have changed from the offer that we all rejected in November - and took united strike action to oppose.
The Government has been trying to blackmail union leaders into signing-up to this unacceptable deal by threatening that if they didn't, an even worse offer would be imposed - and that those unions that didn't cave-in would be thrown out of all future talks. This 'punishment' has apparently already been announced for the PCS.
But union chiefs seeking to do a deal are also under pressure from below - knowing that they will have to justify their decision to union members who will want to know why they have thrown in the towel when no serious further concessions have been won. Where the details of the deal have been shared - e.g with the Health Sector National Committee of UNITE - it is reported that there was an overwhelming view given to the negotiators that they must reject the deal.
In Education, talks have been going on for much of the day, with the NUT and NASUWT apparently trying to persuade other education unions to stand firm. News to follow.