28 November 2011
NIPSA branches are finalising arrangements for setting up picket lines on Wednesday and significant amounts of strike material have been distributed from NIPSA HQ to branches in all sectors and geographical areas.
Over the weekend a number of UK Government Ministers have seen fit to launch further attacks on the trade unions involved in the strikes. They have peddled the line that many public servants will be better off under the government’s revised proposals which were rejected by the unions as marginal and insufficient to address the main concerns about the planned pension changes. In an article in the Sunday Observer the claim from the trade unions that the government was engaged in deception on this issue was vindicated.
Government Ministers and a number of business organisations have also claimed that the action will damage the UK economy. Similar claims have been made in respect of the impact upon business in Northern Ireland. The attacks on the pensions, pay and jobs of public sector workers is part of the government’s overall austerity strategy. This strategy is not working insofar as it is destroying jobs in both the public and private sectors. The UK economy is slipping into a double dip recession. The welfare state is under attack with the government still committed to opening up the health and education sectors as additional profit centres for the private sector.
The answer to allegations that the strike will damage the economy is that while the strike may well be an inconvenience and have an impact upon the economy it is insignificant when compared to the impact of the government’s own policies which stifle economic growth, destroy jobs, reduce consumer demand and generate fear and uncertainty about the future.
In addition inequality in our society worsens as the income of those at the top grows at a phenomenal pace while the wages of workers in the public and private sectors are effectively frozen.
Youth unemployment continues to increase with thousands of young people condemned to the dole or emigration. Much of this is on account of the cuts to public sector jobs; traditionally an outlet for young people leaving school and college.
The 30th November provides us with an opportunity to take a stand, not only in defence of our own pensions, jobs and pay rates but also to highlight the real human damage that is being done to our society by this government.
NIPSA members and their colleagues in the other unions should be proud of the stand that they are taking; standing up for themselves and for a more equitable and decent society.