Monday, January 16, 2012

Fighting privatisation - but not together?

Belated solidarity greetings to PCS members in HMRC taking lightening strike action today against the threatened privatisation of call handling (http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/news_centre/index.cfm/id/6DEA4154-0A65-45CD-9EACDB423509ADCD).

This is exactly the same struggle being waged by UNISON members in Barnet, resisting wholesale privatisation plans from "EasyCouncil" (http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/?q=node/750) (and tweeting as they do - http://mobile.twitter.com/barnet_unison).

UNISON members in health and local government share with PCS members in the civil service all the problems which are created for public servants in the UK by the neoliberal politics which dictate that the correct response to a crisis in the financial sector is to devastate the Welfare State.

We share opposition to the threat of privatisation, and we share the challenge of organising public servants after they have been privatised.

All of which makes me regret the lack of positive progress in joint working between UNISON and PCS since the signing of the Agreement for joint working between our two unions (http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2010/09/united-we-stand.html?m=1).

Indeed, it even seems as if PCS is indeed now talking seriously with UNITE about a possible merger (http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2012/01/mark-serwotka-confirms-that-unite-pcs-merger-is-likely/#axzz1jLZwpA26).

Since such a merger would have all the industrial logic as would be exhibited by the appearance of a member of the Door Supervisors Union (http://www.doorsupervisorsunion.org.uk/) representing an employee of a London local authority, it is quite striking (or perhaps "not striking any more") that we have been able to make so very little progress in strengthening relations between UNISON and PCS, which would seem to have a far sounder basis in common interest.

Activists in different trade unions may need, in these times after the disintegration of trade union unity on pensions, to create new channels for effective inter-union cooperation.

We must most certainly not abandon the local tools for rank and file coordination which we manufactured in the run up to N30, whether they used the (semi-official) structure of Trades Councils or even less official forms.

We also need national coordination - and can look back to the last period of a sustained fall in real wages for some ideas - http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/subject/minority/what.htm.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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