Thursday, September 24, 2009

How are we to defend our members?

I am sat in a deeply frustrating discussion at the Regional Local Government Committee where numerous branches are expressing discontent about the obstacles which are placed in the way of members wishing to take industrial action.

There is no doubt that the anti-trade union laws pose real difficulties for us. Even the most combative trade unions are often forced by legal action to reballot or delay action.

In UNISON however we are so cautious that we place all the obstacles in our own way first of all. Where there are perceptions that some officials are reluctant to support strike action by members there is then endless scope for fruitless argument - and while we delay our bargaining position weakens and our members are left worse off.

Eventually we have arrived at some sensible suggestions to look at briefings for branches on how to organise industrial action and also to review and comment upon the forms which branches have to complete when requesting ballots.

However the problem is political not procedural. What is wrong in our Region is the mistaken believe that all procedures should always be exhausted before industrial action is contemplated. There is no legal or procedural requirement for this overly cautious approach which is not the best use of the tactic of industrial action.

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