GMB, Britain’s third largest union, launched its ballot for strike action on public sector pensions on Monday 31 October.
GMB members across three different pensions schemes (local government, civil service and NHS) will be balloted in a vote that close on 16 November. Also balloted will be GMB members working in Parliament, meaning that MPs will be met with picket lines at the House of Commons. The ballot for the parliamentary workers (including catering and security staff) closes on 15 November.
In the past months, GMB officials have been most explicit about the need for further action beyond 30 November. The union’s National Secretary Brian Strutton has talked of a “long, hard and dirty” dispute which stretches well in 2012. The union refers to the 30 November strike as only “the first day” of strike action.
GMB leaders will need to be held to such rhetoric. The undemocratic culture of that union, where appointed Regional Secretaries hold enormous sway over regional units of the union, while make it difficult for activists to put pressure on their leaders and hold them to account. Using Trades Councils and local strike committees to coordinate with other unions can help build pressure from below, and GMB militants should link up across branches to make sure the rhetoric from Strutton and others is acted on.
The construction union UCATT has also begun balloting its members to take part in the 30 November strike.
Scottish teachers’ union EIS, the first union to begin balloting, will conclude its vote on 3 November.