Monday, January 30, 2012

Divided we stand?

The third largest teachers' union, ATL, has voted to accept the Government's "final offer" on the Teachers' Pension Scheme (http://www.atl.org.uk/pensions/pensions-consultation/pensions-poll.asp), placing themselves at odds not only with the NUT, but also NAS/UWT, whose General Secretary is now forthright in criticising the Government (http://union-news.co.uk/2012/01/nasuwt-refuses-to-sign-scandalous-pensions-deal/).



Meanwhile, construction union UCATT, has agreed to endorse the "Heads of Agreement" with the Government (http://union-news.co.uk/2012/01/ucatt-suspends-strike-action-and-signs-heads-of-agreement-document/) even though this is no longer a precondition for participation in negotiations (so that craft workers in UNITE, for example, will still be represented in the negotiations without having conceded in advance to whole swathes of the Government's position.)



This fracturing of the impressive trade union unity that we saw on 30 November is a direct consequence of the withdrawal of UNISON from the decisive leading role which we played from mid September until mid December. in that period - which also witnessed the most impressive recruitment to UNISON in the union's history - UNISON used the unique authority of the largest public sector union to marshal and sustain the unity of the movement in a common cause to defend common interests.



Such unity could serve equally well to confront pay freezes and job losses as it did, however briefly, the campaign to protect our pensions.



The visible quest for trade union unity from the top of the union also helped to forge intra-union unity, an equally precious and perishable commodity.



UNISON members are the largest group of organised workers set to be attacked by the Government over the remainder of this Parliament. We need to rebuild unity within our union and with other unions if we are to resist.



As to how we go about this, well, the comments box is open...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

Steve said...

Excellent post Jon. I'm a member of PCS, a union that started the action last June. This is a big fear of joint action and one the government is exploiting as cynically as it exploits workers. If it offers minimal concessions to a few schemes, those unions drop out of the action leaving a few unions dangling in the breeze. That's their plan. And why wouldn't members of a particular union vote to accept an offer which is good for them? But I've seen no offers which are good for anyone - just less severe than the initial offers. And to offer a one year delay to some workers, while taking more from others in the same sector, just shows that they can't even tempt people properly. Don't fall for the divide and conquer strategy of old. The union leaders should get together and say - We are all in this together, we've taken action together, so we want to receive good offers all round. Steve