The UNISON ballot is almost over - but there is still time for members to post ballot papers which have been overlooked.
The GMB and UNITE ballots are just beginning - and deserve our attention also.
However, anticipating a "YES" vote and the inevitability of action, we do now need to reflect upon the tactics needed to win this vital dispute.
Since I don't always get the Morning Star on days when I am not at work I owe a hat tip to the "almost-official" UNISON Anonymous Blog (http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2011/10/striking-while-iron-is-hot.html) for reporting on the latest contribution to this debate by the ever-interesting Gregor Gall (http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/111265).
Gregor hones in on a vital difference between public sector and private sector industrial relations (which escapes some of our officials to this day!) He observes that "strikes against private employers are essentially economic where the point is to cause loss of revenue and profit to the employer - terms that do not equally apply to a public or state employer."
In the private sector an employer is driven by the "bottom line" - in the public sector the approach of our employer is determined by "political contingency."
This means that we need to maximise the political impact of industrial action - and that this is more important than (for example) sustaining picket lines on every workplace.
We do need to call, clearly and unequivocally, for strike action on 30 November (once we have the ballot result) and we need to stiffen the resolve of those who may have been deluded by all the talk of "partnership" that has streamed out of our Regional office in recent years. Those who fail to strike on 30 November (unless properly exempted to provide "life and limb" cover) will be scabs and those who make excuses for them will be lower than vermin.
However, having got strike action from our members we must repay their sacrifice with an intelligent strategy to maximise the impact of their action. This must mean an early Central London march and rally on 30 November. Those who stand in the way of this necessary objective are traitors to our cause and must be shown no quarter.
If SERTUC fails to organise an effective platform in Central London for our General Secretaries to articulate our demands then it will become an irrelevance. No UNISON official has any mandate or authority to oppose an early Central London demonstration on 30 November and I hope no one is abusing their position to weaken our campaign in such a way.
UNISON members are putting their faith in our leadership. Now more than ever we need our leadership to rise to this challenge and to ensure that all our Union's resources (including all our employees) stand together in unity to advance our cause in the dispute that will write our history.
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