Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Labour against the pay freeze?

Having spent the last few days revising my view that all this fuss about swine ‘flu’ is out of proportion, I haven’t yet blogged about the pay freeze for local government workers announced by the Local Government Employers last week.

Today’s news that the Labour Group on the LGA think that at least the lower paid should get something may be no more than shrewd political positioning (It is much easier to be sympathetic from opposition…), but it does two important things.

First, it does invite a response as to what has been communicated between the Labour Group and the management side (though there is nothing online here yet).

Secondly, evidence of division on the employers’ side should always be accumulated as it can make a significant difference to the assessment our members may have to make of the worth of supporting any proposed action.

The initial case against a pay freeze was made in the immediate official response and has been elaborated by Heather Wakefield in her blog where she hints at the need – and possible appetite - for action.

UNISON Anonymous also includes an unusually worthwhile piece weighing up what the trade union response to the pay freeze should be. The full answer to that question inevitably depends upon a dialogue amongst the membership (into which at an appropriate point, it is the responsibility of leadership to put forward a strategy which we believe can win).

For now though, we need an early start to a campaign against the pay freeze “offer” from the employers. We need leaflets and petitions, model letters and an Early Day Motion and we need all these things now – and we need to start using them.

At some point we must begin to turn the ideological tide running so heavily against us (even in our own minds) – and the decision of the LGA Labour Group to break ranks with the employers’ side position is as good a place to start as any.

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