Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to work :(

Regular readers Sid and Doris Blogger (together with their kids Dave and Selwyn) can relax on the sun lounger as your humble blogger is back from holidays.

Today - following a meeting of our Convenors Committee in the branch - I sent the mailshot for the pay ballot to the print room and - following a meeting with the soon-to-be-former manager of Strategic Human Resources - I got to a version of a redundancy policy I can recommend to our Branch Committee. So with that and 700 emails while I was off it's all just a regular day in the life of a lay union activist.

This year's pay ballot is interesting. Our Branch Committee is - rightly - recommending rejection of a pay offer which is less even than our employers budgeted for. However the national recommendation to accept (which branches should certainly communicate to members along with any local recommendation IMHO) will carry weight too. A decent vote to reject the offer would be a good start to the campaign that does need to be waged now in anticipation of next year's pay round.

The divisions on the employers' side are also remarkable. The risible ranting of Merrick Cockell (Tory leader of the London Council's group) suggesting that London might break away from national pay bargaining because they oppose the derisory national offer is surely just posturing. If it's not then he's got a pretty limited grasp of economics (though I suppose membership of the Conservative Party often indicates that!)

We may not have the union density of the Scots, Welsh or Northerners but trade unionists in London local government are in the middle of economic and demographic pressures which mean that London level pay bargaining could not but be more expensive for the employers' in the long term.

Socialists should nevertheless support national pay bargaining because we should consider the interests of our class as a whole rather than any local or Regional sub group. Even in the strongest branches in Inner London we are better off as part of a national Union - because only a national Union can wield national political power in the interests of our members.

Leaving of course, only the question of whether we will do so. The challenge facing our Union now is whether we will follow through with the logic of what Dave Prentis said at Conference. The first thing we must do is to support the CWU at the TUC .

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