Thursday, March 05, 2009

O.3% better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick...

We now have news of the ACAS arbitration award. We are welcoming the extra 0.3% and the employers are unhappy. That last is probably the best indication that we ought to be pleased (with apologies to any employers' side colleagues reading this of course!)

The employers say; "We are extremely surprised and disappointed by this outcome, which runs counter to all the evidence we submitted in written and oral presentations to the panel." However the fact that arbitrators arbitrate should hardly come as such a surprise and I hope that some of the more intemperate language in the employers' circular ("We are of course aware that the experience of the last few months has led some to question the value of the relationship with trade unions and how it affects national bargaining.") is just raw red meat for the true blue shires.

I still believe that arbitration was a mistake, albeit one which we had little choice but to make by the time the decision was arrived at in September, and that we could have done better than 2.75% if we had been able to unify all those public sector workers with pay disputes in 2008.

However, this arbitration award nevertheless demonstrates that taking action and pursuing a dispute can produce a positive outcome. Was it worth it?

For those of us who lost two days pay of course we lost more than 0.3% of our annual salary in doing so (depending upon how the calculation was done the amount is about 0.75%). However that was a one off cost - whereas the extra 0.3% is now consolidated into our future earnings for the rest of our time in local government and will be a part of the final earnings on which our pension will be calculated.

Even on the basis of a narrow financial calculation therefore, those of us who took strike action last July were justified in doing so and have been vindicated. If those who crossed the picket lines (but will now also benefit from our action) had stood by us we would have course have won more and sooner.

With local government facing a toxic mix of financial pressures, dogma-driven privatisation and threats to our pension rights we need our Union to give a fighting lead to win the confidence of our members to take action in defence of our interests. We also need to enthuse our activists at every level behind a campaigning approach to the unavoidable defensive struggles which we now face.

1 comment:

Yahoorsur said...

All,

Twelve workers at Prisme, a packaging company with a unit on Tannadice Street in Dundee are currently occupying their workplace after being made redundant with a day's notice.

Details are sketchy at present, but they have been treated shockingly by a firm of what sound to be asset strippers.

Members of the Dundee Trades Council Executive were made aware of what was happening just after tonight's meeting ended, and a whip round secured £50, which was used to buy supplies to tide them over tonight and into tomorrow, but it is important that we raise awareness amongst our members and make public our support.

Please do what you can to get the message out, and if possible, consider raising awareness amongst your members and either having a whipround, collecting canned goods or simply sending a message of support to help sustain them.

Messages of support can be sent to christinaf1956@hotmail.com, or by text/phone to 07882804212.