I attended this meeting and am writing this report in a personal capacity. What follows is simply an account of the meeting.
Over 240 people attended tonight's Unite the Resistance Meeting in Bristol. Speakers included John McInally (PCS), Dave Wilshire (CWU), Jane Taylor (UNITE) and John McLoughlin (UNISON - speaking in a personal capacity)
Many of the platform speakers and speakers from the floor spoke about the pensions strike. John McInally said that 30th June had proved that workers would fight for pensions. Private sector workers at Unilever are also fighting for their pensions. The campaign is for fair pensions for all. 30th November was a great day, but when Francis Maude informed the unions that they needed to agree to the deal by 19th December, all trade unions should have told him where to go. He informed the meeting that Education and Civil Service unions are currently conducting an indicative ballot of members, with the possibility of further industrial action before the end of March. John concluded by saying that if we don't continue the fight for pensions then we'll have sent a message to the government that they can keep cutting. He said that some trade union leaders ought to spend more time fighting the Tories, and less time fighting their activists.
John McLoughlin, one of ten members of the UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive to vote against going into further negotation on pensions, spoke in a personal capacity. He talked about how the switch from RPI to CPI not only affects public sector pensions, but private sector pensions and welfare benefits. The government want £3 billion over 3 years from our pensions in order to pay off the bankers deficit. We should give Fred Goodwin back his knighthood, and take his pension instead. John spoke about the claim that public sector workers must pay more for their pensions because people are living longer, but that this is not the case in working class areas, and that also if you retire later you die sooner, and if you retire earlier you live longer. Making people work longer makes no sense with high levels of youth unemployment. For John, UNISON is not out of the pensions dispute yet, and that if other unions took action that UNISON would support them. He concluded by talking about the BMA and RCN taking action in future, and that 30th November was a magnificent day because of the unity between trade unions.
One of the Unilever strikers from Burton on Trent said that workers can choose to strike or they can choose not to strike, but if they decide to strike they will at least have the dignity of knowing that they took action and did something.