Dave vs Dave, And We All Lose

June 18, 2011

So, Dave Prentice, General Secretary of Unison, has come out swinging. Come autumn, he says, there will be “rolling strikes” rivalling the 1926 General Strike in scope. And, says Dave, “It won’t be the miners’ strike. We are going to win.”

Clearly, Dave thinks that negotiations with the government have broken down irremediably. He’s probably correct. As the Guardian reports, “the prospect of a resolution looks increasingly remote after the government unilaterally set out details of the new public sector pension scheme on Friday” despite concurrently holding talks with public sector union chiefs.

It’s charming that Dave thinks the government would take those talks seriously enough to play softball and even give the unions a whiff of compromise.

But in reality the government feels that its barrage of propaganda against public sector “pensions apartheid” and “gold-plated” deals for public servants, has given it enough ammunition to ride out any industrial action. And they are right.

The government knows that neither the unions nor Labour offer an alternative. As Angela Eagle, Labour’s shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury put it when responding to Prentice’s call, “Everyone agrees public sector pensions need to change as people live longer. But the government should be getting round the table and talking changes through. Instead we have got another bout of mismanagement and chaos.”

Again, in reality, many, many, people do not agree that pensions need to become more expensive and require more labour to obtain, despite demographic changes. But Labour do think so. And Dave Prentice believes that all that is required from his end is a negotiated settlement, one which if he attains it, will move British workers one, instead of two steps further towards longer working lives and more miserly pensions.

We will see many thousands of workers taking industrial action starting on June 30, but their political potency will be sapped by the glaring absence of alternatives within either the political parties, the trade unions or the media.



One Response to “Dave vs Dave, And We All Lose”

  1. watsonlow Says:

    Ed Miliband’s Labour is the party that would make slightly fewer cuts than the Tories. It is a pity that we do not have a major political party offering an alternative positive vision. Having just spent many hours walking along the Thames between Hampton Court and Putney I am left in no doubt that we are not all in this together. The wealth oozing out of the riverside homes and surrounding streets tells a story of conspicuous consumption. The government is seeking to protect the lifestyles of the people enjoying this affluence by turning the screw on the rest of us.

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