Biggest union protest in a generation

Biggest union protest in a generation

The day of action on November 30 will be the biggest trade union protest for a generation. The decision to ballot up to three million members was made by the TUC's public sector liaison group - attended by 24 unions on September 14, immediately after the pensions debate at TUC conference.

The meeting took into account reports of the central talks held with ministers, as well as discussions across the various public sector schemes. They noted the lack of progress or any meaningful negotiation on the crucial issues, such as contribution rates, pension age, transitional protection or accrual.

Earlier, Congress delegates voted unanimously in favour of a pledge to "robustly defend public sector pensions and campaign for affordable pensions for all workers."

Provision should be based on levelling up and making private companies face up to their responsibilities rather than cutting public sector pensions, the motion stressed.

It called on the general council to "give full support to industrial action against pensions cuts, including action planned for this autumn, and maximise its co-ordination."

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said afterwards that the TUC remained committed, in good faith, to seeking a fair negotiated settlement but the government "needs to understand the strength of unions' resolve reflected in today's decision."

In addition to four affiliates (PCS and education unions ATL, NUT, and UCU), who took industrial action on June 30, ten further unions reported on decisions to move towards ballots for industrial action.

Among them were Prospect, FDA, Unison, Unite, GMB and the Fire Brigades Union. Even the National Association of Head Teachers is balloting members - if they vote yes, it will be the first time in its 114-year history that members will have chosen to strike.

Barber said each union was being asked to consider what it judged to be the most appropriate form of action, ranging from balloting on strike action through to lunchtime meetings, rallies and joint events with community groups and service users.

This article was first published in the October-November 2011 issue of Profile.