Thursday, October 04, 2007

NEC debates public sector pay

The major discussion on public sector pay at yesterday's meeting of the UNISON NEC was of course about the local government pay dispute. We considered the unfortunate news that both GMB and TGWU-UNITE members had voted to accept the below-inflation pay increase. However, the point was made that PCS members in the civil service would be likely to take action alongside UNISON local government members.

One piece of good news relates to an administrative difficulty with the strike ballot which largely affects Greater London. A significant number of employers were not notified of the national strike ballot and our members with those employers are not included in the main ballot. However, it has now been agreed to run a secondary ballot for all the omitted employers with the same end date as the main ballot so that, subject to a “YES” vote in both ballots, all members can take action together.

I welcomed this news and was also one of those stressing the possibilities of joint action with PCS. I also expressed disappointment about the A5 strike leaflet, which could have been far better worded. We were assured that the letter from the General Secretary which will accompany the ballot paper is better. Other materials, including presentations and speakers notes are to be issued and branches need to organise meetings and bulletins to members now in order to maximise the turnout and the “YES” vote.

Some colleagues, including fellow London NEC members said that members were not enthusiastic about strike action. However, Dave Prentis, General Secretary said that UNISON had never had a national ballot go against a national recommendation since he had been General Secretary and that, whilst it would be difficult to win the ballot and the dispute, this was what we had to be committed to doing. He said that during the ballot period all officers and lay activists should be cancelling other meetings and getting out there to get the vote out. His encouragement is now online.

John Jones, NEC member representing Water and Environment, made a particular point of expressing the concerns of members in the Environment Agency that more had not been done to criticise the very poor pay offer made to them (at the same time as their Chief Executive was being rewarded with a fat bonus).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is ever really enthusiastic about strike action -it is a necessary last ditch tool to use and if we wish to be part of a union then we accept that strikes may well occur for good cause, with a potential financial penalty attached. Some London NEC members may wish to express concern on behalf of their members -I guess they are the women NEC members from my experience -but I would hope that they are raising said concerns after consulting with a range of women members or at least reporting back to them? kat