Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The POA and the anti-union laws

As a good delegate who can observe collective responsibility when it is appopriate (as opposed to other occasions - of which more later) I voted in line with UNISON policy at the TUC - which meant my hand was one of the forest of hands that voted down Motion 7 from the Prison Officers Association.

The POA may be unlikely poster boys (and girls) for the left but the combined effect of prison privatisation (a Tory policy pursued with relish by the Tories of New Labour); a de facto ban on effective industrial action and a principled leadership committed to trade unionism and equality have combined to produce - in the POA - a strong and leftwing trade union.

Motion 7 - which called for (unlawful) strike action to break the anti-union laws - had sound intentions but invited tactical criticism, expressed by a PCS delegate who argued that members would not be mobilised to oppose the anti-union laws themselves, but would come to see the necessity for unlawful action if the laws were used unjustly to block action on issues of pressing concern to the membership (such as attacks on jobs or pensions).

I understand that the POA were inspired to put Motion 7 before Congress by what they heard from the Justice Secretary when he spoke to them. (Certainly the Government's treatment of the POA has very little to do with justice!)

One of the most lamentable failures of the New Labour period which is now coming to its miserable end has been the failure of the trade unions to reverse the anti-union laws introduced under Thatcher and Major. Under a future Tory Government we can now expect further restrictions on our rights - at the same time as a major onslaught upon jobs, pensions and public services.

In a couple of years time many UNISON members may be confronting major challenges with restrictions on our right to take action similar to those which now face the POA.

If we won't then confront the anti-union laws, even at the risk of every asset of our Union, what will we do to fight for our rights?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'If we won't then confront the anti-union laws, even at the risk of every asset of our Union, what will we do to fight for our rights?'

Edinburgh Mail Centre 2 nd unofficial walkout this morning,Glasgow D.O's unofficial walkouts last week,60 POSTAL WORKERS WALKED OUT IN A PLYMOUTH DELIVERY OFFICE TODAY IN SUPPORT OF THIER UNION,keep an eye on the posties John.