You can get details of local rallies and the main TUC march here – please let us know if your workplace has a picket and we’ll add it to the list – and take a photo on the day and send it to BirminghamAgainstTheCuts@Gmail.com.
The dispute in the strike is about pensions. But that is not all it is about. Unions cannot legally strike over cuts, it must be a specific dispute with their employer.
The pensions changes are part of the cuts. The Hutton Report (the definitive pensions report) told us that public sector pensions are sustainable. The extra money paid each month, the money saved by making people retire later and get less in their retirement, will not go to the pension funds, they go towards paying off the deficit.
So this strike is about cuts, but it’s also about more than that. A prime motive for making public sector pension schemes worse is to make the public sector organisations more attractive to private companies.
This government is hell-bent on cutting back the public sector, because of an unflexible ideology that states that private sector is always better than public sector, that the private sector generates wealth whilst the public sector consumes it, that it is right that 1% of people have 25% of the wealth, and that 10% of people have 90% of the wealth.
We can see the start of this in the NHS with the reform bill and loss-making Circle Health taking over the running of a hospital.
We can see this in the Higher Education White Paper, which will open Universities up to for-profit companies.
We can see this in Free Schools and Academies- Free Schools are already private organisations, funded publicly. Academies break up the collective system of education, making individual schools an easier prospect for profit seeking companies, as they can cherry pick the most financially viable schools, whilst others (no doubt those in more deprived areas) are left to rot through underfunding.
Outsourcing has been a way of life for much of the rest of the public sector for many years, but this government would happily outsource everything, except perhaps the police and army (although I’m not even sure about that).
That’s why this Wednesday’s strike action is about so much more than pensions. It is about the idea that the public sector, through collective purchasing, nationwide delivery and the lack of a profit motive, can provide some things in a better way, with better outcomes, than the private, profit-seeking sector ever could.
So everyone should be out on Wednesday, public sector, private sector, retired and out of work, to defend the idea of a society which provides services on the basis of need not wealth, through organisations that are for people, not profit.