Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The best that can be achieved by negotiation...

Well done to the 13 members of UNISON's National Joint Council (NJC) Committee who supported a sensible proposal yesterday to recommend rejection of the local government employers 1% pay "offer".

I'm less enamoured of the 14 members of the Committee who opposed that call and left us going out to consult UNISON members in local authorities, and related employers, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the basis that "this is the best that can be achieved by negotiation" and that it would take "sustained all-out action" to get more.


Of course.

Tell us something we don't know.

Those weasel words "the best that can be achieved by negotiation" can be translated (when expressed with no other recommendation) as "we hope you'll accept this lousy offer because we don't think we're up to leading a fight for something better but we don't want to admit our inadequacy as your leaders and would be grateful if you would be so kind as to take responsibility for our failure."

After three years of pay freeze - in which the living standards of local government workers have fallen by one sixth (16%) it is truly pathetic that some of those who aspire to lead our trade union are content to acquiesce in a further fall in our standard of living (as long as they can find a form of words which means it's not their fault).

Our movement will not escape from its current decline until all our leaders can show the pragmatic determination and reasoned courage of the large minority of the NJC Committee who backed a recommendation to reject.

Those of us who agree with the wise 13 and reject the timidity of the feeble 14 should not give up.

UNISON's Rules and Conference policy give a clear right to branches to campaign for rejection of the 1% pay insult. We should use the official national ballot paper in branch consultative ballots, accompanied with clear, simple, persuasive and well-argued recommendations to reject.

If control-freaks try to stop us we must resist. Those who vote to accept a further cut in our living standards by accepting a below-inflation pay rise are on the side of David Cameron - and anyone who tries to prevent branches recommending rejection is doing the work of the Tory Party.

It is never easy to persuade members to take strike action - as we must if we want a decent pay rise. But the lesson of history is that it is only ever when local government workers take national strike action that we secure better pay.

We know 1% is "the best that can be achieved by negotiation".

Now is not the time for negotiation.

Now is the time to reject 1% and campaign for strike action.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


Sean said...

Jon: I am clear we have every right to campaign after all the recommendation is not a recommendation simply a statement as one delegate said yesterday! As one of the 13 I have no hesitation in saying winning our members to action would not be an easy task but simply saying the best achievable is tantamount to a nod and a wink that we dont want to even try. We need to be honest with our members and try and win that argument since if we lose a day/days pay through strike action we lose it only once, anything we gain we keep year on year.

Anonymous said...

Jon: Pathetic indeed. The NJC Committee (or some) may be 'fearful' that members will not support a call to Reject, but that does not remove the responsibility. The offer is a real term pay cut of 2%. With at least 3 more years of a 1% cap announced. All the 'weasel words' could still have been put out with a recommendation to Reject and a clear impetus to engage members on that basis. In that context they would have represented a 'whole truth' instead of this nuanced abdication. Far better that members may say "we hear you, we agree with the arguments, but we are not up for action now" than "we hear you - but what are you actually saying?". Our Scottish comrades showed the way and doubtless had the same concerns. In the absence of an NJC Committee recommendation branches are free to adopt a position. And at least they will be able to look in the mirror without shame.

Anonymous said...

What's the latest position in Scotland following the rejection of the pay offer?