A massive November walkout of up to 2 million public sector workers is now on the cards as the UK's largest unions announce their intention to ballot for strike action over pension reform.
Unison, Unite and the GMB, the UK's largest biggest unions, have announced their intention to ballot for coordinated strike action against cuts to public sector workers pensions.
Other unions which have not taken action over pensions so far also indicated their intention to ballot, including the NASUWT (a teachers' union), NAHT (headteachers), FBU (firefighters), Prospect (civil servants).
Unions which took strike action over the same issue on June 30 will almost certainly join this action as well, including PCS (civil servants), NUT (teachers), ATL (teachers) and UCU (university and college workers).
Importantly, the three big unions have members in the NHS and its contractors, and have stated their intention to ballot them for industrial action as well. Unison has stated it will ballot 1.1 million members at 9000 different employers.
Despite agreeing to enter scheme-specific talks with the government without having achieved any concessions on the main planks of the overall changes, the union leaderships are now talking tough, calling this "the fight of our lives".
The three big unions have stated they will support a big one-day strike, followed by selective "smart" stoppages rolling on until next summer.
The first increase in workers' pension contribution payments, where workers will see their pay cheques shrink, is due to come in in April 2012.
Behind the scenes, it is rumoured that Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, may be prepared to make a deal if local government workers are exempted from our proposed 50% increase in pension contributions. We cannot accept this - we need to all stick together. Because if we let other groups of workers have their contributions be increased, then a couple of years down the line they will be back for ours, and those workers will think "why should we support them, when they didn't support us?".
The unions have a patchy record of defending public sector workers' pensions. In 2006 when a big wave of pension cuts were proposed, following a one-day strike, further strike action called off, and eventually a deal agreeing to significant cuts in pensions was recommended to now-demobilised union members.
If we want to have a serious chance at fighting these cuts, then we have to make this action as effective as possible, broaden it out as much as possible and take the struggle into our own control as much as possible. If we let ourselves be passively led by the unions then we will be defeated again.
Originally posted here: http://libcom.org/blog/huge-strike-against-pension-cuts-way-14092011
Libcom.org has collected some great articles written by anarchists/libetarians about the riots in England over the past few days:
In addition, Ian Bone's blog provides links to various sources of commentary including radio show and interviews: http://ianbone.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/the-white-terror-is-upon-us/
Community orientated 'unity' activity is being organised though neighbourhood assemblies, co-organised and supported by anarchists such as 'Give Our Kids a Future! A North London Unity Demonstration': http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=260822497262285 called for Saturday 13th August.
An account and info about other 'unity' action elsewhere in London can be found via this source: http://thethirdestate.net/2011/08/south-london-united-or-divided/
which includes a report on the South London Solfed organised event in Deptford on Wednesday and refers to one announced in Lewisham on Saturday and also the one by North Londoners linked to above.
Over the last few years I have penned a number of biographies and obituaries of anarchist militants. One of the most poignant of these was a piece I had to write on the Spanish militant Luis Andres Edo whom I had known personally whilst living in Paris in the early 1970s. But nothing compares to the painful task of writing this remembrance of a comrade I have known for forty years.
I first met Bob Miller in 1973 or 1974. He participated in a libertarian communist group within the Socialist Party of Great Britain. This group contacted the London group of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists of which I was a member and we began to have discussions. They had wanted to orient the Party more to the workers’ and social struggles that were in full swing at this time. Just after the 1972 SPGB conference they began publishing a magazine called Libertarian Communism and ORA comrades gave some support in terms of resources, I seem to remember. People outside the Party contributed to the magazine. They and other SPGB members were expelled or left in support not long after. I remember Bob coming round to the North London flat I shared with 2 other ORA members for discussions, always lively and sometimes heated , and in retrospect I have to admit Bob was more accurate on some of the finer points of analysis than we were!
The expelled group linked up with other SPGB dissidents who had been expelled at the same time and eventually a group emerged called Social Revolution. We organised joint day schools with them and with Solidarity at the Centro Iberico in North London, and there were high expectations of a merger between ORA and Social Revolution. However this was not to be and Social Revolution then completed a merger with the libertarian socialist organisation Solidarity. I lost track of Bob and his comrades after that. He and they passed through Solidarity and then were involved in the founding of the Wildcat group and then of the Subversion group which produced a journal of the same name.
In February 1988 I was handing out a leaflet produced by the Anarchist Communist Federation aimed at the large demonstration in Manchester called to combat Section 28 ( a significant attack by the Thatcher government on gay people). Bob was at the demo with the Subversion comrades and they liked our leaflet. Contact was established and we got around to organising a series of joint day schools around the country. With the demise of Subversion Bob joined the ACF in 1998 with a couple of other ex-members of Subversion and we began to work closely over the next decade.
Bob was an enthusiast of cheap pamphlets and he was instrumental in developing a whole range of Anarchist Federation pamphlets . In addition he was a dynamic activist within the Manchester AF group and was involved in many local activities. The testimony of many who were influenced by Bob over the years can be found on internet boards like Urban 75 and libcom and they stand as a fine tribute to both his influence and importance.
Bob had many fine qualities, chief of which were his generosity and hospitality and his desire to make libertarian communist ideas accessible; he was always welcoming to new comrades, he was almost always reasonable and always attempted to act in a non-sectarian way to other libertarians, and he rarely lost his temper during political encounters. He and I sometimes had disagreements, but they were like the quarrels of brothers, and I always had great respect and admiration for his political longevity and his continuing optimism about social change.
He is a great loss to the Anarchist Federation and to the movement in general. I miss him very much.
Bob passed away shortly before midnight the night of 17th June 2011.
http://libcom.org/history/miller-bob-1953-2011 contains a link to recollections of Bob's life and a nice photo.
The previous issue of Freedom also contained letters submitted and collected following Bob's death: http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2011/07/02/bob-miller-rip/
Watch this video of Bob speaking at a Mayday event (2008) in Manchester "No Borders, No Nations, Free Communism!": http://www.afed.org.uk/images/Anarchist_Federation_ Speech_by_Bob_Miller_at_Manchester_Mayday_2008.mp4
The photograph accompanying this article was taken at the The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and left there with a red rose (see shadow on poster) and a red & black flag. 2011 was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune.
In the light of recent events it's well worth a read of this contemporary spoof of The Sun newspaper containing a "Tintin" cartoon about the Wapping printers strike of 1986-7, that was supported by many class struggle anarchists including those who formed the Anarchist Communist Federation (our old name) and Class War at the time it was about to become Class War Federation. And this is even more contemporary, taken outside News International this week, and also featured on BBC News!
We will never forget the brave fight of the printers at Wapping.
Amongst the written material produced by strike supporters during the dispute and handed out on the picket lines was Picket and copies of Class War. Later publications covering the strike included the pamphlet Paper Boys. All are available in print at the Sparrows' Nest library and archive in Nottingham. More online at http://libcom.org/tags/wapping including a photo essay.
They said we were greedy printers but we showed them all.
Since the Winter of Discontent, when the Soft Cops were no longer able to control the workers their role for Capital has been on the decline and that of Hard Cop on the increase.
It would take their combined efforts to break up the strike. It would take over a year, 2000 arrests, beatings, the murder of a resident by a scab with a police escort and Sabotage to firmly mount the saddle, sign a Secret Agreement . [introduction to Paper Boys]
See also: the BBC's historical view ... Wyn Jones, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said, "We saw the classic example of honest well-intentioned union members supporting their cause being joined by diverse elements whose only interest was in causing as much trouble as possible. " "They were intent on disrupting business and assaulting officers."
Thousands of people have been occupying public squares in Greece to protest the government’s continuing austerity drive. Syntagma Square, in front of the parliament building, has been the principle focus of the occupations with thousands camping out and holding regular mass assemblies. The actions culminated in an attempt to blockade the parliament building on the day of the general strike, a plan that prompted widespread repression and confrontation with the police (including use of new motorcycle units who are equipped with metal clubs, tear gas and stun grenades). Police are also reported to have stopped ambulance crews from assisting injured protesters. An estimated 20-30,000 people filled the square, making it a far larger and more diverse action than any opposition seen so far. Protesters also attacked the luxurious Hotel Prince George and the Ministry of Economics. In response to the ongoing crisis the government has called for a “national unity” coalition, the assembly, however, has responded that it will continue to hold the square until governments, banks and the IMF are ousted.
The strength of the occupations, their size and their commitment to direct action and non-representational methods of organising are certainly inspiring and show the credibility of anarchist methods in practice. This aside, some in the existing anarchist movement have pointed to the need for more sustained intervention as there is an ongoing commitment to pacifistic methods (in spite of police provocation) and some of the actions are backed by nationalist sentiment, e.g. defending the Hellenic Republic from the “foreign” intervention of the EU and IMF. The latter has prompted the involvement of fascist groups who, in a surprising move, attended the protests during the General Strike (after a clash with anarchists they were ousted from the demonstration). More worrying reports have also come through of hostility to the use of anarchist banners and flags within the occupation itself. Nonetheless, the examples set by Greek workers are positive and testament to the power of direct action. Most importantly they point to a clear strategy – to escalate dissent to a point where the system is ungovernable – in the international fightback against austerity.
- ANARCHIST FEDERATION STATEMENT ON THE JUNE 30TH STRIKES
- Statement in solidarity with the social movement in Greece : International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA)
- UK Unmasked and the New Kids on the Bloc - preview article from Organise! 76 (Summer 2011)
- Pegging out the bunting - and polishing up the vinyl
- Office Angels - solidarity action after temp worker denied wages in Wimbledon
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