UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

What do people in the North think about the pensions dispute?

If you only listened to what the media are telling us about the public’s views on public sector workers, and their defence of jobs, pensions, pay and in the services they deliver you would believe that everyone agrees with the Coalition Government’s view. This is clearly not the case as a recent YouGov poll carried out in the North East shows.

In fact the majority of the public in this region support those taking strike action today, and support public sector workers in defending their pensions:  http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-teacherstrikes-290611.pdf

The reality is that public sector workers provide essential services, which everyone has direct use and benefit of. If you are one of the more vulnerable in our communities then you rely on public services in daily living.

The latest figures nationally show that private sector jobs are shrinking, the great revival is not materialising, so to put public sector workers out of jobs at the same time makes no economic sense. Attacking people with disabilities portraying them as trying to just get what they can from the system, when in fact they want to work and to be treated with respect and dignity; attacking young people who can’t afford to stay on in further education, and then can’t get a job either makes no sense.

This is why in the North East the campaigning work of the Northern Public Sector Alliance (PSA) is so important, and also is shown to be having a positive impact. The bringing together of all trade unions in the region, both public and private sector, the building of alliances with community groups, campaigning organisations, and service users is essential to challenging the Government’s orthodoxy but also critically providing an alternative approach, both economically and politically.

The local PSA coalitions are building sustainable alliances which are challenging through argument and activity the Government’s arguments and showing there is a much different approach needed, and indeed wanted.

The relevance of trade unions has never been greater for decades, not only negotiating and supporting members in the workplace, but also in reaching out to new people, and providing a broader leadership role in society to show there are many who do not agree with the Government, and if people come together as a collective then you can make a difference.

Clare Williams