Thursday, June 03, 2010

General Secretary outlines strategy to deal with the Coalition government's attacks?

The major part of the General Secretary's report to today's meeting of the Unison NEC dealt with what Dave described as the cataclysmic change of Government.

The Tories didn't, we were told, get the result they wanted. They had wanted a massive majority for ideologically driven cuts.

The deficit is due to bailing out banks and there is no need to close the deficit so quickly. Nevertheless the Government will cut public spending because that is what they want to do. There will be a misleading focus on waste and on the non-existent distinction between the "front-line" and the "back-office" with local government already taking a big hit.

We are into a four year battle to defend public services, jobs, pay and pensions. Our main focus must be on defence of jobs and services.

Resources need to be shifted to the local level in our Union.

Government plans for schools and health privatisation threaten us. Whilst inflexible contracts may mean disproportionate cuts for in-house public services.

What we need is unity with other trade unions and alliances with service users. We have a lot to do politically.

We may also have a lot to do industrially. Whereas - we were told - an attack on pensions could lead to national industrial action local action is a more likely response to compulsory redundancies.

Dave reported that the European TUC were calling for a demonstration in Brussels on 29 September and floated the idea that perhaps we should demonstrate in London rather than Brussels.

Since we had been told that the NEC would be making a statement to Conference following the outcome of the General Election, I made the foolish error of asking if we couldn't see a copy of the statement. This led to some of the audible "tutting" with which I am often honoured by some NEC colleagues.

There needs, you see, to be discussion with "the Regions" about the content of such a statement but I wasn't to worry, as the statement will be available for the next NEC meeting, ninety minutes before the opening of Conference on Tuesday 15 June (by which time the NEC will be presented with a statement already agreed with "the Regions" shortly after the Regional Convenors will have themselves been presented with a statement.

My friend and comrade Paul Holmes asked what UNISON's Strategy was to deal with the new situation after the General Election. The General Secretary kindly explained that this was a matter for the Service Group Executive as far as Local Government is concerned and that Paul could ask there.

Another NEC member pointed out that we already have the "Million Voices" campaign (to which some 15,000 voices have been added) and that all we needed to do was to take this campaign back into our branches.

So that's all right then.

I think I may have to return to this topic.

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