Thursday, November 06, 2008

Why we need joint union action over pay

Inflation may yet turn into deflation, but right now the living standards of public sector workers are dropping like a stone as our miserable pay rises of the last few years fall ever further short of rising prices.


The decision of the Executive of the NUT not to call further strike action in the light of the narrowness of the majority for action in their national ballot leaves civil service union PCS almost alone as they embark upon national strike action over pay this coming Monday.


The
ballot result of health service members in UNITE will not be known for a few days yet - but the large majority of health service workers are now focused on next year's pay claim (as we are in local government).


Reports from NUT meetings show that appeals to "belt-tightening" as recession bites will have some purchase amongst trade union members, and need to be countered with positive arguments about the macroeconomic impact of raising public sector pay, as well as appeals to justice and collective self-interest.


However, I remain convinced that the decisive reason for the real terms pay cuts experienced by local government workers (including teachers), health workers, civil servants and others over the last while has been the deliberate refusal of the trade unions to take disciplined and united action.


We need to find a way build this unity at a rank and file level if we are to achieve our potential and protect the interests of our members.

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