National Shop Stewards Network Bulletin No. 90
14th May 2012
11 May 400,000 public sector workers across the country demonstrated once again on May 10th that the mass campaign against pension cuts is still very much alive. The "regulars" like the PCS, NIPSA and UCU were joined this time by Unite workers in health, who organised a lively demonstration from St Thomas’s Hospital London; Unite staff from government departments; the Immigration Service Union (ISU); and RMT members the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
The NSSN gives a special mention to POA members across the country left the prisons with only emergency cover to stage "illegal" walkouts. These lasted 7 hours and involved all Scottish prison officers and 80% in England & Wales.
This was topped by a massive demo filing past Parliament of 35,000 off-duty police, 16,000 of whom wore black caps each to signify a job cut. Their few banners expressed their anger. "Utterly betrayed" and ""No Right to Strike = Right to be screwed." It is a sign of government short-sightedness that they cannot even beef up the forces of the state they rely on!
However, the significant union missing was unfortunately the NUT. It is a fact that closed schools helps enormously to provoke media headlines, and add to the pressure on the government. And they have been there in the actions so far. There were many reports of strikers on picket lines asking where the teachers were? In fact the NUT National Executive were meeting in London at the same time as these demonstrations were taking place, and, it was reported at a brief lobby of teachers at DfEE, that they had decided against a strike in June, despite clear agreement at their recent annual Conference to do so.
The task of bringing the school teachers back into the fold, and how to build on the vote of Unison health workers who narrowly rejected the pensions deal in a ballot, now takes on an even more urgent character. NSSN Conference in June 9th is increasingly looking like a very useful forum to discuss the way forward. We urge as many members of teaching unions and local government in particular to make a special effort to come along. We need to organise unity from the bottom up. We've just produced more copies of an updated leaflet for the conference. Let us know if you need a supply!
The battle on pensions is the most favourable terrain we have to fight on together. Pension cuts unite all public sector workers more than any other cuts campaigns. The Coalition government looks increasingly on the ropes. PCS and Unite have indicated plans to call another action at the end of June. Bob Crow has raised the possibility of a "national strike" in the autumn. We have the potential to win. NSSN Conference can play a role in helping to win. Be there!
National Shop Stewards Network 6th Annual Conference
Saturday 9 June 11am-4pm, Friends Meeting House, London NW1 2BJ
- RMT general secretary, Bob Crow
- PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka
- A leading Rank and File Unite construction electrician
- Kevin Courtney, NUT deputy general secretary