Thursday, March 01, 2012

Warm words in the Pay Ice Age

In case any readers of this blog thought that the local government employers were unfeeling as they refuse once more to make a pay award, although prices have now risen by 13% since they last did so, I thought I should share with you the following extract from Tuesday's letter from the employers to the trade union side Secretaries (in which the employers refuse to go to ACAS);

"The difficult decision to not make a pay offer was made in response to the unprecedented financial situation facing councils. Nevertheless the Employers are keen to stress how much they appreciate the hard work and commitment of the local government workforce and understand that asking them to accept a third year without a nationally-determined pay increase will come as a disappointment."

It certainly gives a warm feeling to know how much our "hard work and commitment" is "appreciated." Sadly this warm feeling doesn't unfreeze our pay!

As for a "disappointment", I think what is more disappointing than the predictable intransigence of the employers is the failure of the trade union side clearly to put the option of industrial action before our members.

It is completely mistaken to suppose that we can "build" for action next year against the fourth year of pay freeze whilst silently swallowing the third year now. Leadership is not shown by only asking members questions to which you already anticipate a positive answer.

What is required, for workers within the NJC and all our bargaining groups, is a continuing campaign against the pay freeze, with the aim of encouraging UNISON members to be prepared for, and take, sustained industrial action, coordinated on the widest possible basis.
At a minimum we need - now - a vigorous campaign to mobilise political opposition to the pay freeze in local government (and beyond).

We ought, for example, to be able to secure sufficient signatures on an e-petition to force a debate in Parliament, which would provide a focus for lobbying and to raise the arguments for action with our members.

I fear though that the answer to the question "when shall we fight the pay freeze?" always seems to be "next year" and that - if our leadership won't even clearly and formally ask our members the question about industrial action in 2012 - we ourselves have thereby made it harder to see how we can get a positive answer to that question in 2013.

The pay freeze is part of the same ideological anti-working class offensive as the attack on our pensions and the massive programme of spending cuts. We desperately need to start showing the same determination as is shown by our enemies.

Otherwise the pay freeze could become a Pay Ice Age, which will never be defrosted by warm weasel words from the employers.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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