SP and SWP back pensions deal

Submitted by AWL on 21 October, 2006 - 8:50

At a meeting on 21/10/05 of the Executive of the civil service union PCS, the TUC-Government deal on public sector pensions - which creates a two-tier pension system in health, civil service, and teaching, and leaves local government and the fire service in the lurch - was endorsed with only one vote against, from AWL member John Moloney.

PCS is the one union in Britain where avowed Marxists hold the majority on the Executive (as well as among the full-time officials). But the Socialist Party and SWP members on the Executive voted for the deal.

The SWP's position is especially strange. An article in this week's Socialist Worker, personally signed by SW editor Chris Bambery, and featured as the lead item on the SWP website, denounces the deal as an "abject capitulation" and urges trade unionists to "meet immediately to organise resistance to this deal".

Yet in the one place where trade unionists did meet to decide on the deal, and the SWP had votes which could have made a difference, SWP members Sue Bond and Martin John voted for the deal.

In the National Union of Teachers, the SWP has been very strident against the deal, and has launched a petition against it. In Unison, leading SWPer John McLoughlin has issued a statement declaring himself "shocked" by the deal, which "appears to sell the rights of future generations on pensions... and to break the unity of public sector workers by leaving local government workers and firefighters on our own".

But on the PCS Executive the SWP followed its rule of the last few years - never to say or do anything, within their earshot, which might offend trade union leaders who support or might support their rotten "Respect" coalition. On the same basis the SWP member on the CWU Postal Executive voted for the job-cutting Major Change deal there. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka is the only trade-union leader who actually supports Respect.

The SP's line is more consistent, with their paper as well as their PCS Exec members hailing the deal as a victory.

It seems very unlikely that the NUT Executive will reject the deal. In Unison, the Health Service Group Executive meets on 2 November to consider the deal. Left-wingers on the Service Group Executive are arguing that, whatever the merits of the deal, it should at least not be ratified until local government workers are offered something comparable. (At present local government workers face different, and worse, proposals). There is a negotiating meeting on local government pensions the same day, 2 November.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/10/2005 - 11:49

I think uyou are right about implicitly endorsing the opposiotn to acceptance of the deal until public sector staff iin local government have had achance to consider the offer. A conference or onvetion of public sector unions to consider the deal? Could have other uses. However overall whilst the SP/Mils may be abit quick off the mark and gung ho to be frank I think that realistically this is about as far as the movement is going to go on this one. Sorry to sound pessimistic. What I fiond particualrly bizarre is the SWP opposing the deal publicly and then its members on the PCS NEC endorsing this. The other thing about this is obvosly realistic or not it is likely to make questions of unity within PCS more difficult in future - especially of there is further conflict with "the Employers" over pensions as seems likely. You need to bear in mind we have had acouple of periods of apparent if limited revivial over the last 10-15 years which have come to little or nothing. Some of the smart money sees this as amatter of terminal decline of the unions as "bedrock defnsive organisations of the working class" as AWL has labelled them in the past. The key thing seems to be that the trade union bureaucracy still palys a negative role and quite key one. I'm not endorsing the idea that only the bureaucracy holds the workers back but at the moment there is little to stop them apart from thr apparent apathy of the memebers, from taking amore dfensive or militant line when such basic questions are involved. Basically the T & G leadership have policed and sold put the Gate Gourmet workers - not like Quigley and Co at the GMB over the Burnside strike!

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