By Marcus Leach
As the proposed strikes set for November 30th draw nearer we take a look at who will be a part of the industrial action.
Over 2 million public sector workers are expected to strike in a bid to protect their pensions. However, such action at a time when the economy is already frail could be hugely detrimental.
Such is the concern that the government have stressed that they will pass tough new strike laws and scrap the pension reform deal if the strikes go ahead.
Further to that Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has warned that the strikes cost the economy in excess of £500 million, although the Trades Union Congress, which is backing the strikes and drumming up further support for the disruptions from among their members, have responded to Maude’s claims, blasting the estimate as ‘fantasy economics’.
Despite the warnings there seems to be no backing down from the 26 unions, lead by TUC, who are set to press ahead with their plans of industrial action.
“The unions don’t want to cause danger to life and limb but we want to demonstrate that the action has had an impact," Alan Manning, secretary of the North West TUC, said.
“The day of action will go ahead unless the government comes forward with significant proposals on the key issues.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey echoed the sentiments of TUC.
"Unite supports good pensions for all workers including MPs. What we do not support is a cabinet of millionaires attacking the very modest pensions of the men and women who care for our sick, teach our children and keep our streets safe," he said.
Who are the key players in the strikes?
TUC: Not content with just striking TUC have gone one further and released a song to express their views. "No song could better meet our twin goals. Not only does it capture the determination of public sector staff to reach a fair settlement of the pensions issue but also what is so special about the magnificent people who provide our vital services," TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said.
Unite: "On November 30, we fully expect millions of public sector workers and their supporters to show their disgust at the government's plans. If the government seriously wants to avert a long dispute and heal the divisions it is causing, it needs to get back round the table with some sensible plans for solving the problems it alone has caused," Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said.
GMB: “GMB members have resoundingly said “Yes” to strike action and “No” to the government’s raid on their pensions," Brian Strutton GMB National Secretary for public services said.
Unison: “This is a national scandal. Whilst top bosses and the mega rich benefit from ten billion pounds worth of tax breaks, low paid public sector workers are left fighting for their small pensions. They’ve already had two years’ of frozen pay at a time of high inflation, and hundreds of thousands are facing the prospect of losing their jobs. The Chancellor’s claim that we are all in this together just does not ring true," Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said.
UCATT: “UCATT members do not take industrial action lightly. The level of support for strike action underlines just how worried our members are about the future of their pensions," George Guy, Acting General Secretary of UCATT, said.
National Union of Teachers: "The NUT's research proves two points,” says Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers. “First, funding public sector pensions is a complex area – we won't allow our opponents simply to ignore those parts of the story that don't suit them. Second, it is a long term issue – policies shouldn't be driven by short term considerations."
RMT: “The Royal Fleet Auxiliary services the Royal Navy in times of both war and peace. It is nothing short of a scandal that brave men and women who risk their lives to get supplies through to the ships in war zones around the world are facing an attack on their pensions by this Government to help bail out the bankers-led financial crisis," RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said.
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