Saturday, December 04, 2010

Baby steps to national action?

I have been promoting locally UNISON's call to our members to lobby Members of Parliament in opposition to cuts in our pensions which are being introduced at the end of March, and some comrades have (understandably) bemoaned the timidity of our national leadership in making such a limited call upon members to take action.

However, I notice that a similar call has been made by the National Union of Teachers, a union which has shown the way in making an "in principle" commitment to balloting for national strike action on this issue.

PCS are calling an indicative ballot, rather than an industrial action ballot, in defence of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (and have also asked members to lobby MPs).

If we do believe that national trade unions, confronting national attacks, should consider and prepare for national action then we need to lead members forward in steps as large as we can, and as small as we must.

There are still some on the wilder wing of the movement who prefer to promote "guerilla struggle" as if this were an alternative to national action. Of course limited action by strong sections must and will take place, but on its own it will do no more than protect pockets of strength and organisation.

We need national action if we want to do more than simply mitigate the worst of the coming cuts, and we need to recognise that every call for action from the top is an opportunity for agitation on the ground.

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