The national strike against “work longer, pay more, get less” pension changes included the PCS civil servants' union; Unite in Health, Ministry of Defence and the civil service and lecturers in UCU.
In addition members of the Nipsa public services union in Northern Ireland and RMT transport union members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary also took action. Tens of thousands of off-duty police are demonstrating today against privatisation and cuts, while the Prison Officers Association staged a lunchtime walk out.
Well-attended and confident picket lines took place across Brighton at the Jobcentre, Courts, HMRC, Brighton University, City College and the Royal Sussex hospital along with Lewes Prison officers walking out in solidarity.
A rally was held outside Brighton Town Hall, addressed by representatives from all the striking unions, as well as members of UNISON Local Government and the National Union of Teachers.
Further national co-ordinated strike action is necessary to force this government to back down. Already, the attack on public sector pensions has signalled private sector employers to wage even more attacks on staff pension schemes. Tesco recently imposed a two year increase in the retirement age for their scheme.
Unfortunately, despite clear agreement from national conference, the NUT executive did not agree to further action in June. This was argued against by Socialist Party members and others at the conference and on the executive. Unison Health ballot narrowly rejected the latest government pension offer. The strength of those striking yesterday could be significantly increased if they were joined next time by the teachers and workers organised in Unison.
The battle continues to win these unions to further national and co-ordinated strike action. A key step in this battle is the National Shop Stewards Network conference on 9th June, a movement drawing together rank and file trade union members and activists from across all trade unions to organise the way forward in this and other battles. If you would like to join the NSSN mailing list please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Dale PCS Brighton Jobcentre, said at the Brighton Town Hall rally:
"They have started taking the increased contributions from our pay packets. This will happen next year and the year after that. We cannot afford to stand back and say 'that is the end of it'.
"But this isn't just about pensions, if the government gets away with this attack what's next? Regional pay, attacks on trade union facility time, one hundred jobcentres up and down the country threatened with closure; privatisation is on the agenda of this government.
"The government said today that our actions were 'futile', that they have made their final offer, well... they have now made four final offers! We want a fifth final offer; no changes, leave our pensions alone, then we will settle!"
PCS and Unite have indicated plans to call further action at the end of June. Bob Crow of the RMT has raised the possibility of a “national strike” in the autumn. Further action drawing in as many unions as possible can defeat this government and deliver a heavy blow on the overall project of making workers and the poor pay for the capitalist crisis.
For more reports of the strike from around the country please follow this link: www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14502/10-05-2012/pensions-strike-reports-10th-may