Monday, September 20, 2010

Employers on the attack?

Friday saw an unusual letter sent to branches of local government unions by the trade union side of the National Joint Council - which negotiates pay and conditions for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The letter warned of the sort of attacks on nationally agreed conditions of service (such as being proposed in Croydon) and reminded local negotiators that they may not agree to sacrifice those national conditions in Part Two of the Green Book. Instead any attempts by local employers to undermine the national agreement should be referred to the bargaining machinery.

We need to prepare for attacks both on conditions of service and on national bargaining (for all its shortcomings a vital institutional expression of unity).

Whilst labour market conditions may be very different from those in 1989 - when attacks on conditions of service (the notorious "strings") helped provoke successful national action over pay - we need to mobilise our members nationally against every local attack upon conditions.

The gathering offensive against local government workers (which is only part of the wider attack upon the working class) encompasses threats to our conditions as well as our jobs, pensions and pay - and we need both a coherent and a coordinated response.

It's a shame no overarching strategy to defend local government and its workforce found its way onto the agenda of last week's TUC...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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