Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Broadening the battle lines ahead of M28

Today's Morning Star publishes my review of the Communist Party's pamphlet on the pensions dispute, "Broadening the Battle Lines" by Party Chairman, Bill Greenshields (http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/content/view/full/116240).

A focus on the pamphlet - and its argument for a united political campaign by the trade unions to defend public service pensions - and for this campaign to be located as part of a conscious political fight against the government - is timely in the run up to the likely strike action on 28 March (M28).

This Monday I attended, with some other UNISON activists, a local organising meeting with representatives of unions preparing for action on 28 March. Although final decisions will be taken in the light of current consultation with NUT and PCS members, on the ground preparations are being made for action to take place on the day.

Whilst we are not in a position where UNISON will be calling for UK wide strike action on 28 March, it is nevertheless in the interests of UNISON members that any action taken as part of the pensions fight has the maximum impact.

A solidarity presence on picket lines - and attendance by UNISON members at lunchtime or other protests and rallies on the day is the very least we should be aiming for. We may not be able, formally, to advise members to respect picket lines - but we can press employers beforehand for assurances that they won't victimise anyone who does so (and we ought to be prepared to use all the resources of the union to defend any member victimised in those circumstances).

Most importantly, we must do what we can to maximise the political impact of the action set to be taken, and the sacrifice being made, by our sister and brother trade unionists. The point needs to be made, to our own members, to employers, politicians and the local media, that there has been no settlement of the pension disputes in health and local government and that UNISON has current mandates for further action in both sectors.

To put our movement into a better position to wage the long war which has been declared upon us by the Tory Coalition Government we need to do all we can to rebuild the unity which we saw on 30 November, and to do so on the basis of an understanding that these are not normal times.

In these times we do not have normal industrial disputes, to be settled by skilled negotiators so that we can return to "business as usual." In these times every dispute is an act in a larger drama, in which our opponents are planning each move of a deliberate war on the organised working class and the social gains of the past century.

We desperately need the same level of understanding and determination on our side as they show on theirs.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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