Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's going on?

As happens sometimes to a Branch Secretary, I was asked today by an active and effective shop steward "what's going on?"
Ever the labour historian, I quoted Harold Wilson and said that, "what's going on is that I'm going on" (and on, and on - as regular readers Sid and Doris Blogger can attest).
What is also going on is the hardest work by dedicated trade union activists, with and without facility time, that I have seen or known in a quarter century on the front line of the class struggle.
I see people pushing themselves past their limits daily as we try to deal with mass redundancies and madcap privatisation whilst the daily diet of disciplinary and sickness cases continues.
Good friends and comrades are reaching their limits - and sometimes even falling out in consequence - because it takes a great deal to handle the sheer injustice and damage of these Tory cuts. (And to every Labour Councillor who says how hard it has been to "take hard decisions" I say - spend a day with a shop steward representing those on the receiving end before you expect any sympathy from me!)
In part, and as worthless as this may be, I simply want to record here my solidarity with and admiration for the thousands of lay trade union activists who are bearing the brunt of the Tory Coalition's attacks upon the welfare state - and are doing all we can to inspire a fightback against these.
For those who foresaw a "war of attrition" - you were right. And all the attrition is us.
For those who advocated "guerilla tactics" you were right. We have no choice but to fight back however we may.
But you were also wrong.
What we need now - what will answer the crying need that (to be blunt) leaves some of us crying just now - is national action.
As a leader of two and a half thousand workers I can do so much and - with the back up of a brilliant, committed team of activists - I will do all I can.
As a small part of a movement of six million workers, who put 500,000 on the streets of London in one of the largest demonstrations in the history of our movement, the branch of which I am proud to be a member can do much more.
The question isn't really "what's going on?" The question is "what ought to be going on?" The answer is that we need to build and build and build for unified national action against the attacks on our pensions at the earliest practicable date.
Unless and until our movement is led into decisive conflict with the Government, one element of the consequences of the "war of attrition," which is being prosecuted so successfully against us, will continue to be the despair, disputes and demoralisation that are so damaging to us at a local level.
To activists I say, see beyond the factors which may set us against each other for what our members need is a unified fightback.
To fellow NEC members I say, now is the testing time - let those who will lead a fight provide that leadership.
And all UNISON members in London can choose now whether it should be me who is "going on" as your NEC member.
To strengthen our union please support the candidates of the left.
What's going on? I would like to say that "I'm going on" - but that is for the members to decide!

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1 comment:

Emma said...

Keep up the good work, comrade.