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Socialist Worker

Fight for a June strike

by Tom Walker

The prospect of a strike over pensions in June hangs in the balance.

The GMB union’s health sector has returned a staggering 96 percent vote to reject the Tories’ offer, on a 60 percent turnout.

This is another resounding indication of workers’ mood to fight.

On 10 May up to 400,000 public sector workers walked out to defend pensions.

The strike involved health workers in the Unite union, civil service workers in the PCS and lecturers in the UCU, among others.

Since then there have been discussions over a further strike in June.

The NUT teachers’ union was set to join this time—until its executive committee pulled the plug.

The UCU will hold its annual congress in early June, where it will decide whether to strike later in the month.

The union conducted a survey of branch officers.

It found that the 10 May strike was stronger in some colleges than previous ones, but in most there was a lower level of active support.

When the union’s national executive committee discussed this last week, a lot of criticism was levelled at the general secretary Sally Hunt.

Workers need to feel the union has a strategy to win.

The strike on 10 May was vital in keeping the pensions fight alive. Now the clock is ticking for a union to name the next strike day.

This week the PCS civil service workers union holds its conference (see right).

Unity with other unions cannot be used as an excuse not to call action.

Over and over again during the dispute, unions have reached a stalemate, with each spending weeks saying to the others, “We’ll call a strike when you do.”

That cannot continue.

“The union leaders need to realise that this issue is winnable,” says Maggie Palmer, a community based children’s mental health worker and Unite rep.

“It was disappointing that Unite didn’t build the strike in every locality on 10 May.

“Instead it relied on a small number of workplaces to carry the strike.

“Only striking once every few months loses momentum and risks losing the struggle.

“The battle looks set to hot up in the autumn, but we can’t wait until then.

“We need to keep up the struggle and we need more unions to strike back together.”

Unite the Resistance will hold a national conference on Saturday 23 June in central London. Go to www.uniteresist.org


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News
Tue 22 May 2012, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2304
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