Monday, November 14, 2011

Build for the 30th - and look beyond

On the day when the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the First Division Association both returned impressive YES votes for action on 30 November, the most important task facing all trade unionists is to communicate to all our members, with absolute clarity, the need for a dramatic and effective 24 hour strike starting at midnight on 30 November.

Tomorrow's briefing for London UNISON branches will be a unique opportunity to organise cross service group action in our capital city. It has taken eighteen years, but UNISON is finally coming of age, bringing nurses out on strike alongside local government workers (and many others!)

Whilst working our socks off for the most effective action possible on 30 November we do however need to be debating where we go next after that Day of Action, as I argue in the Morning Star. Gregor Gall's recent contribution to this debate is timely and interesting.

He is right to argue that a strategy that does not include further all-out action after "N30" cannot seriously expect to win whereas a strategy of trying to "keep people out" rather than going back to work on 1 December cannot seriously expect to be delivered.

Whilst I want there to be a debate in the movement about what, between these two equally wrong-headed approaches, we need to do, I do understand why union leaders play their cards close to their chests. Dave Prentis cannot express a personal opinion about what we do next without offending against our lay democracy. Elected lay officials can - and should - express the range of our personal views though, and we should do so now.

It may be particularly useful if those who remember their roles in the 1989 NALGO local government pay dispute communicate what they believe to be the lessons of that dispute for our current circumstances, since it combined both escalating all-out action with selective (or what is now called "smart") action.

I hope that we shall find some space for such a discussion at tomorrow's necessarily truncated meeting of the Greater London Regional UNISON Local Government Committee, and shall report back here later this week.

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