Sunday, 9 May 2010

What now for the public sector?

As the dust settles on the General Election, the "horse-trading" begins. Are the politicians, who are seeking to negotiate coalition governments, talking about improving public services, creating real jobs and protecting pensions? Or are they talking about what cuts are coming and their own political careers? I think most people know the answer to those questions.

There is no doubt that the bankers are demanding that the public services are cut. They will also be looking to raid public sector pension schemes and public sector terms and conditions. We have seen in Greece what the bankers want. Next will be Spain and Portugal. These people are ruthless. They care not for public services - they don't use them! They hypocritically criticise public sector workers for striking and shutting services for a day, whilst they (the bankers) demand that the very same services are closed permanently because we "can't afford them".

Has anyone noticed the newly, part-nationalised banks acting with a social conscience? The Royal Bank of Scotland is 84% publicly-owned and yet paid 100 of its investment bankers a bonus of £1,000,000 each and 16,800 of its investment bankers got an annual bonus of £77,000 each.

Don't expect fairness from these people. They think only of their own pockets. Or, as in the words of the leading Goldman Sachs banker of the 1950's and 1960's, Syd Weinberg, the policy of the bank is "long-term greedy".

Unison and other public sector unions can only do one thing - get organised. Get organised in the workplace and in politics. It is only through organisation that we will succeed. It is an old adage but it is true. Unity really is strength. The bankers, employers and many politicians hate the trade unions because they fear the unions being organised. Their friends in the press try to "soften up" public opinion by publicly attacking the working condition of working people - whether it is cabin staff at British Airways, public sector pensions, etc. We saw in the general election where the sympathy of the majority of the press lay. The same people who own the banks, own the press.

So, as politicians return to their "smoke-filled" rooms to discuss in secret what we have supposedly voted for, I have a clear message for our members. I know people don't want to look forward because of what is coming, but we have to. We have been here before. We don't want to return to the pre-Second World War conditions that our forefathers and foremothers lived in. We demand the right to live in dignity, with decent education, working conditions and retirement conditions. We don't want those who have these conditions (i.e. bankers, employers etc) telling us that we can't have them. So we need to organise. We have no option. An individual can do little on their own. All workers instinctively understand this. Let's get organised across the public sector by co-ordinating all public sector trade unions.

It is indeed ironic that politicians, having spent weeks trying to get us to vote for them , are now busy discussing how best to cut our living conditions!

If cuts have to be made - make them in not replacing Trident, PFI schemes, politicians' expenses, etc. We, the trade union members of Britain, don't want our living standards and public services cutting. We intend to organise to make sure they aren't.

Paul Holmes
Unison General Secretary election.

Future meeting I am speaking at:-

1. Thursday 13th May 2010 - 7:00pm - ULU, Room 3A, London - Rally
2. Saturday 15th May 2010 - 12:30pm - ULU, London - Unison United Left AGM - Speech
3. Thursday 20th May 2010 - half an hour after the end of the South East Regional Council meeting - ULU, London - Rally
4. Monday 17th May 2010 - Wigan, North West (venue and time to be confirmed) - Hustings

(ULU = University of London Union)

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