There I bumped into Paul Holmes, NEC member and Branch Secretary of the Kirklees Branch, who explained the successful outcome of their recent strike ballot (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bradford-west-yorkshire-12140501).
Thanks to a vote for action in a strike ballot of the entire Council workforce - and the consequently credible threat of a week long strike, the branch secured a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies this financial year, reversing an earlier decision to make 150 compulsory redundancies. Other concessions were secured on redundancy selection procedures and the redeployment period.
As I observed before Christmas (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2010/12/kirklees-take-lead.html); "A five day strike by a well unionised local authority would not only pile pressure on the particular employer, it would also signal what is possible. It would be a warning to the Government and an example to workers up and down the country. If the credible threat of such action produced significant concessions that too would be a lesson to the rest of us."
The lesson has to be that the credible threat of serious industrial action is a valuable and important tool with which to defend the interests of trade union members.
All industrial disputes end, sooner or later, in a settlement (which is usually a compromise of some shape, size or description). The Kirklees experience suggests to me that the best results are to be achieved by a resolute and combative approach rather than by starting from the premise that cuts must be made and we had better help make them less painful.
Kirklees UNISON will face further challenges in the coming months (as will we all) and clearly have won no more than a respite. It is a respite from the threat of compulsory redundancies for which I (and most local government Branch Secretaries) would be very happy to settle!
I will blog a link to the report on the UNISON website celebrating the success of our Kirklees branch in defending members' interests - just as soon as I can...
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