Friday, July 1, 2011

Major public workers' strike in Britain

Not the officialist traditional major unions, which (as almost anywhere else) seem totally discredited and boot-licking, but a group of four breakaway unions were the ones bringing the British school system to a halt yesterday and also affecting ports, airports, tribunals, tax and job offices. These unions are the Public and Civil Service Union (PCS), the National Union of Teachers (NUT), University and College Union (UCU) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). They went to strike against the dismantling of the social security pension system.

The figures oscillate between 100,000 strikers acknowledged by the government and the 200,000 claimed by PCS.

Officialist unions are angry that they are being ignored. They claim that going to strike was a tactical error. This stand is totally in line with that of the government, who pretends to be negotiating but just to get backings to its draconian cuts plans, nothing about listening to the workers or making the rich pay.

Instead for the International Marxist Tendency, with deep British roots, this was the first coordinated strike in decades at state level and a total success. Something is changing in Britain!, they claim hopeful.

This letter sent to The Guardian (but of uncertain publication) sums up the reasons for the strike:

I am a civil servant striking today. I don't want to be on strike, the loss of pay next month is going to hit me very hard, and I don't particularly want to cause other people inconvenience. But I feel it’s necessary to show the government that civil servants are fed up of being deprived of decent pay rises and treated like scapegoats by government and media alike. We accepted a two year pay freeze to help the country out, whilst private sector got an average of a 3% pay rise. We have had our compensation scheme virtually destroyed, are losing jobs all over the place and now are expected to pay 3% extra for a pension, which was the only thing we had that made rubbish pay worthwhile. If this change comes in I will lose the equivalent of one day’s pay a month. Can anyone afford to take that kind of pay cut?

What's more, that money will not go into the pension but will go to pay for a crisis created by greedy people in the private sector who are walking away from this laughing.

I believe everyone should have a good pension, no one should need to rely on benefits when they get old, and I don't accept that just because private sector employers are allowed to line their own pockets at the expense of their workers that it somehow puts me in the wrong for not being willing to accept the same thing. This government has no intention of negotiating in a meaningful way over pensions; it has already stated when these changes are coming in! Finally I pay tax, so I fund my pension that way, something that always seems to be ‘overlooked’ when ministers talk about being fair to tax payers.

Video (from PO):

London demo

Sources: IDOM, PO, The Guardian (they hid it but I found it).

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