Monday, June 25, 2012

Once more unto the breach (having left the beach)...

Today, the first working day back from Conference, was (not unusually) an eleven hour day in the office.

For all that Conference (done properly) is hard work it doesn't hold a candle to a week in a busy branch office (and for those who experienced "strike fatigue" after just one day last year, I would invite you to see if you could stand the pace for even an hour in Brixton)(an invitation which could similarly be offered by many of my Branch Secretary comrades the length and breadth of the UK).

While we decamp for a week to the seaside to make policy (except in those unfortunate years in which we foolishly hold Conference in medium sized Northern cities which,lacking beaches, are inappropriate venues) the issues facing our members do not go away. We therefore return to redundancies, disciplinaries and tribunal cases (in relation to which our lamentable practice of channelling everything through our solicitors makes it so much harder than it once was to achieve satisfactory outcomes).

Particularly in a local government branch, where we rely mostly upon ourselves and - given the continuing failure of national bargaining - can see little that is of benefit to our members from our participation in a national union (and none at all from the existence of Region), it is important to remember why the week just gone was a good use of time.

We were right to spend time in Bournemouth (however much that may have angered some members expecting a swifter response to their issues) precisely because we cannot only respond to national attacks with local action. Activists in the branches which want to fight back need Conference as an opportunity to connect and coordinate.

From this point forward, those branches with members in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) who want to build the October 20 demonstration and make good our General Secretary's pledge to smash the Tory pay freeze, must also campaign for rejection of the unsatisfactory "Work Longer. Get Less" proposals for our pensions. We cannot build a fight on pay by capitulating on pensions and the response on Conference floor to our General Secretary's keynote speech made this all too clear. We now have a massive task to mobilise our members for action.

Just for fun, we have to do this on top of catching up with "routine" work (none of which is "routine" for the individuals or groups affected) which has been piling up while we were away.

Allons y.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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