Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Naming Ceremonies?

Serial UNISON NEC member and sometime blogger, James Anthony, opined today (in response to the suggestion that we should "name the day" to commence unified industrial action to defend public service pensions) that we were talking about a campaign of strike action and not a wedding.

This is of course true, as was the observation from our General Secretary that a single day won't in any case do the job and that a sustained campaign will be required.

However, since we do need both to marry together the efforts of all the public service trade unions and to begin to visualise a timetable for sustained action, the demand to "name the day" does correspond - in a general way - with the interests of our members (and potential members).

By identifying a clear timetable for unified action our trade unions would send an unambiguous message to this Coalition Government that we are not going to allow the complex differences between particular pension schemes to divide and diminish our unity of purpose (which must be to inflict a defeat on them in this battle in order to weaken and diminish all their many attacks upon the interests of our class).

Additionally, by giving a general indication of the timetable to which we are working, we will help to overcome the problem of activists putting other issues ahead of the pensions dispute.

As one such branch activist I know that I can now only deal with crises and that I need the spur (or goad) of a timetable if the pensions issue is to remain at the top of my "to do" list.

Whilst activists will rightly lobby the NEC as the body responsible for the governance of our Union between Conferences, it is also true that the initiation of industrial action is a matter for Sector Committees (under the overall responsibility of Service Groups) and that approval for such attempts will depend upon the NEC's Industrial Action Committee.

As some disputes cross Service Group boundaries their management may fall to the Service Group Liaison Committee (SGLC)(which exists in a shadow realm beyond our Rule Book).

There are those who say that our arrangements for lay control of cross-Sector industrial action are clear, simple and transparent. They are wrong.

If our General Secretary has invited Regional Convenors to an extended SGLC meeting on the 19th (aka the Pensions "summit") then this pushes in a correct - inclusive - direction. Including representatives of each Regional Local Government Committee on the body dealing with negotiations on the Local Government Pension Scheme would be a further positive step.

We have more work yet to do if we are to ensure democratic control by the elected representatives of our members over the dispute which will define our Union. In the mean time, those who ask our NEC to "name the day" make a demand which correctly corresponds to the interests of those we represent.

I look forward to being lobbied in the morning!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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