Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We must break the pay freeze - which does need leadership

Dave Prentis gave a characteristically considered and thorough review of the past year and of the challenges ahead of us in his annual speech to UNISON Conference.

I'll blog a link to the text of the speech once it is online. My initial thoughts are that I agree with almost every word, and accept that such a speech may not be the place to explore the tensions between believing on the one hand that leadership is about "honesty and listening" and that on the other it is also about "raising people up" and giving them confidence.

The muted reception of what was a less tub thumping speech than in recent years should give activists some pause for thought. Cynicism is as much our enemy as it is of the General Secretary, and, as much as we may be cautious about calls for united action on pay as we remain rightly unhappy with the handling of the pensions dispute from December onwards, we need to mobilise members to march in October and to fight on pay.

The challenge to our leadership is to win the confidence of all our activists that, when we embark upon a major dispute with this Government, we are "in it to win it" and not simply for the easily anticipated surge in recruitment.

Applying the principles of "honesty and listening" to the consultation exercise and ballot on the LGPS will be an important element in winning that confidence.

Our members, and potential members, need our Union more than ever - and we need our Union to fight for our interests. Socialists in UNISON, with our eyes wide open and our critical faculties unimpaired, must be the most enthusiastic organisers for 20 October, and the most vigorous supporters of the call from our General Secretary for industrial action to defeat the pay freeze.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

1 comment:

Adrian Picton said...

You seem surprisingly supportive of the leadership all of a sudden. Whatever you say about it not being the time for the debate about the role of leadership, the fact is that engaging our members to take further action is going to be a lot more difficult after we have been let down over the pensions campaign when prior to N30 Dave Prentis told us it would take more than one day's strike action to bring down the Government on pensions. How are we to believe he won't let us down again on pay? It's all very well calling for "united action to break the pay freeze with Unison leading from the front" but where's the strategy? We have to continue and increase our campaign within the union nationally and within branches to ensure he doesn't let us down again.