Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Congratulations Leeds

The Morning Star is reporting the successful outcome of the eleven week long strike by UNISON and GMB members in Leeds.

This dispute is a reminder that pay equity is best achieved by collective bargaining backed up as necessary with industrial action, and that unity between the trade unions is vital to defeat a hostile employer.

The strike also shows that our members will show courage and determination in a defensive struggle - a lesson which we have to consider carefully as we face up to attack after attack in the coming years. One possible response will be to accommodate to detrimental change (such as the continued fragmenting of public service provision or attacks upon core conditions) in order to prioritise sustaining membership and organisation. Another possible response is to see our role essentially as one of resisting adverse changes, mobilising our members and potential members with the priority of defending workers' interests (and the secondary benefit of improved organisation and membership).

Regular readers Sid and Doris Crypto-Trot will know which of those two approaches I prefer, which I think the Leeds strikers have just put into practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's brilliant news that the Leeds binmen won the dispute. And it shows that well supported strike action can work.

But it does not mean that strike action will always work. This dispute had a few things going for it that helped it be successful

1. There was a relatively small number of workers on strike making it easy to manage and any money raised had to be shared around less workers. So their loss in pay was not as bad as it could have been.

2. The strikers themselves were very determined. Again easier to keep people determined when they are smaller in number and they all know one another.

3. Their grievance was a big one and one that the public could easily support. Modestly paid people taking a pay cut of a third is an easy pitch to the public.

4. Their strike action had a big impact on the council and the public.

But it would be foolish, niave and ideologically dogmatic to think just because this strike action won, all strike action will win in the future. And Jon, you are not either foolish or niave, even if you are ideologically dogmatic, so I'm sure you would take a broader view of what this victory teaches us?

Sid (non crypto-trot) Blogger