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November 30 Day of Action – Ayrshire pickets

30 Nov

We visit picket lines in Ayrshire to find out why our members are taking action to defend their pensions.

 

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We’re not going to be mugged by millionaires and billionaires any longer

30 Nov

As a potential three million people take strike action today in defence of their pension entitlement – the largest coordinated strike action ever seen in the UK- it’s crucial to reinforce why people working in the public sector have been forced into this corner.

The UK economy, like so many other countries across Europe and the rest of the world, is in crisis.  The mantra from Westminster and David Cameron has been to tell us time and time again, ‘We are all in it together’.  We must all share the pain of this economic crisis.

Why should we share the pain?  Look around us here today, thousands of people that provide essential public services joined in collective protest.  The teacher didn’t cause this crisis.  Neither did the nurse or the school janitor or the refuse collector.  While capitalism went crazy over the last generation, you were treating our sick, educating our children and caring for our most vulnerable, doing the jobs that keep everyday life going.

Many people from across the private sector also join us today in solidarity through their own volition.  Hard-working people like the engineer or the construction worker; they didn’t cause this crisis either.  And comrades neither did the ordinary shop-floor worker in our high street banks, many of whom come from our union’s finance sector and have joined the ranks today across the country.

Everyone knows where the blame lies for the economic mire we find ourselves in today.  It lies squarely with a corporate class who gambled and lost with every facet of our lives;  our savings, our mortgages, our pensions – the ‘1 per cent’.

It also lies squarely with the failure of governance.  Not one UK government since 1979 can wash their hands of the blame for this mess.  In the UK , successive governments bent to the demands of the city.  And if they didn’t openly encourage it, they certainly turned a blind-eye to what can be best described as corporate greed and at worst downright criminality.

Most galling for us all is that the ‘1 per cent’ are still being allowed to get away with it by our political class.  Look at the facts:

  • The pay of the head of Barclays increased nearly 5,000% in the last 30 years while average wages for you and I have increased just three-fold at best;
  • The very banks which we had to bail out with our taxes paid out £2 billion more in bonuses this year than they did at the start of the financial crash in 2008;
  • David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne & Vince Cable continue to resist a Financial Transaction Tax – the Robin Hood Tax – a miniscule charge on transactions between financial institutions which could generate billions.

This system works for the few, not the many but now it’s broke.  The free-market, casino capitalism, neo-liberal economics…whatever you want to call it…it has failed ordinary hard-working people and we aren’t going to prop it up any longer.

On pensions, we all know the realities:

  • The NHS pension scheme receives £2 billion more in contributions than it pays out in benefits;
  • Staying in the NHS, the average pension is just over £4,000 a year; and
  • In the Local Government Pension Scheme the average is also £4000 a year – and only £2600 for women who dominate the part-time ranks.

And yet Con Dem Ministers and their poodles in the popular press lie through their back teeth to tell all and sundry that your pensions are ‘gold-plated’, that you are lucky to even have a pension.  It’s sickening.

Why should you bear the brunt of austerity by having your modest terms and conditions frozen or cut?

Why should you work harder, for longer and for less? 

Why should you be forced to accept the prospect of a retirement in hardship?

In the years to come, David Cameron’s big lie that ‘We are all in it together’ will go down as one of history’s greatest cons.  But the truth is out and we’re not going to be mugged by millionaires and billionaires any longer. 

The solutions can’t be found in politics, but they can be found in people.  And everyone here today has a vital part to play.

The attacks on our pensions by this Con Dem Government merely represent the first waves of what will be a very long and sustained attack on the terms and conditions of working people.  And unless we want to be pawns in a rich man’s game, we must stand up for ourselves and fight-back.

I’m proud of the robust resistance you are demonstrating today to defend your modest pensions but when you leave here today, prepare yourselves for the long-haul.  Your unions will stand with you and we will support you every step of the way.

Return to your workplaces and communities – agitate, educate and organise. 

Today isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning. 

ENDS 

Transcription of Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty’s #N30 ‘Day of Action’ speech, delivered at the Glasgow Barrowlands Rally. 

N30 – Solidarity messages from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

29 Nov

Bangladeshi garment workers marching in solidarity with N30 strikers in the UK

– by Jackie Simpkins, War on Want

We have been very pleased to receive messages of support from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for public sector workers taking strike action on 30 November. The messages come via War on Want, an organisation Unite is affiliated to.

The messages come from trade unions, affiliated through the Global Union Federations and ITUC. They have been involved in plenty of action themselves recently. The Sri Lankan has also been campaigning against imposed changes to their pension schemes, and many have been arrested for speaking out.

Solidarity Messages from War on Want partners

War on Want partners, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) will be organising a rally as a strong signal of their solidarity for our UK union members and supporters who are taking strike action on 30 November.

“The National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF) has been fighting for the rights of garment workers in Bangladesh since 1984. We will stand with the public sector workers in the UK on 30 November in your fight against the attacks on your pensions and the cuts that your government have imposed. We know that these abuses and the programme of cuts will make thousands of you poorer as a result and as workers, we stand united against poverty wherever it is found.” 

– Amirul Haque  Amin  – General Secretary,

National Garment Workers’ Federation, Bangladesh

And from Sri Lanka

The Free Trades Zones & General Zones Employees union (FTZ & GSEU) extends its fullest support to the UK Trade Unions joint actions which is scheduled to be held on 30th November 2011 against the unilateral decision of the UK Government to make people more and work longer for a lot less

Yours in Solidarity

Anton Marcus

Joint Secretary

FTZ & GSEU

Sri Lanka

 

 

 

N30 – hear the truth

29 Nov

Watch and share Unite’s latest video about the pensions dispute. We are the 99%.

Your N30 – Take a moment to tell the world

23 Nov

Let’s make November 30th a day to remember.

 

If you’re taking action to defend your pension that day, we want to know.

Tell Unite all about it – then we can tell the world.

Send us a text from your workplace, picket line or town centre.  Let us know about the atmosphere, the turnout, even the weather.  Tell us what is going on. Or if you’re not on strike, send a message of support.

Your messages will be broadcast live on Unite’s website.  It will be a vivid record of a fantastic day for working people the length and breadth of the country.

It is easy to tell the world. Just TEXT it into 86888 (don’t worry; it’s free!).   Or send your pictures to N30@uniteyou.org.

You can find your nearest event below.

You can also follow @UniteScotland and @N30Scotland on twitter, and use the #N30 hashtag to share your experiences.

What you’re saying:

 

The Governments’ Pension Plans to make people pay more to receive a smaller pension are a slap in the face to a hard working public sector workforce that do not get benefits the private sector do in bonuses and share offers and wage increases. It is a typical Tory knee jerk reaction to try and solve problems by taking from the many who earn the least and not from those who evade taxes through loopholes.
The government is risking putting many people into further financial difficulty by making them pay more for their pensions now and to worsen it later by paying them less for their pensions when they retire.

Also in making people work longer before they can retire they are not opening jobs to the next generation who would be coming into the workforce on a starting salary which will cost the government more and keep unemployment figures higher.

I am standing up for my fellow workers and will be taking annual leave to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow union members in the march to the Scottish Parliament to fight this injustice.

– Tom Fegan, Edinburgh

 

“I don’t believe the financial crisis to be a political issue. It is simply that the people who were meant to look after the money got greedy and the rest of us are being expected to pay for it. If I hadn’t managed my money would the bankers have bailed me out? – No. I will defend my less than ‘gold plated’ pension which amounts to less than £5,000 per annum all the way.”

 – Jacky, Unite Workplace Rep from Kirriemuir 

 I wish you every success for your struggle. Now It’s time for all of us to fight to protect social rights and democracy. Solidarity from Greece. Our minds and hearts are always with you.

– Evangelos Lagos, Greece

 

@N30Scotland on twitter

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#N30 Hashtag on twitter

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