Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Standing together on 30 November

Whilst we may have to wait for the ballot result from our brothers and sisters in UNITE, we already know that the GMB, UCATT and the Society of Radiographers joined us today.

We are heading for the largest, and most united, strike action of our lives on 30 November, and one of the most encouraging features of this dispute is the unity of purpose which it has engendered.

In my own branch we are cooperating with a multitude of other trade union branches to build support for the strike and picket shared workplaces. At the Town Hall, and many other Council offices, we will stand alongside comrades from our local GMB branch (and in some cases with comrades from UNITE). At our local College, picketing will be jointly organised with the UCU. Crucially we will work jointly with all the teacher unions, NUT, ATL, NASUWT (ballot permitting!) and the NAHT. This picture will be replicated up and down the country.

And where we have workplaces where members of different UNISON branches work together, pickets from different UNISON branches will be cooperating on the day. Now is not the time for those of us in UNISON to remain in our "service group" silos. This is a fight which the Government has picked with the whole of the public sector, and the whole of the public sector must - and will - stand together to resist.

As UNISON's guide on industrial action for branches makes very clear "It is important to work with the other trade unions at local level to ensure the maximum impact of the strike and any protests. Branches are encouraged to set up joint trade union strike committees, to co-ordinate picketing arrangements and other activities so that each union can play to their maximum strengths." This applies as much to different branches of the same union as it does to different unions.

(If there are a small number of conservative officials who see cross service group working as "meddling" or who fail to understand the extent to which workplaces are shared between UNISON branches across service groups then their toes will be quite sore on 30 November, having been trodden on a fair bit. Perhaps another of the unions striking with us on the day will be able to offer them some solace!)

In our great majority, millions of trade unionists are preparing for united action on 30 November. We will stand together, picket together and march together. This unprecedented unity gives us some sense of the potential power of our movement.

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