Monday, June 03, 2013

Show some leadership - reject 1%

Back to work after Whitsun and a key priority is encouraging UNISON members to respond to the consultation on local government pay and - I hope - to reject the 1% pay insult (in line with the policy agreed by UNISON's Local Government Service Group in the Greater London and North West Regions).



However, since rejection requires a serious commitment to strike action, some members will - no doubt - opt to accept a below-inflation pay increase. That's their right and I respect their views. Above all, trade unionists should express a view.



Opinions are not, however, static more than dynamic. Nor are they individual more than they are collective. The fallacy of the opinion-poll driven politics of my generation has been a politics which aspires to no more than reflecting back at people their own individual answers to loaded questions. Blairites call its consequences "triangulation" and hold it to be the highest wisdom.



They are wrong.



Leadership can play a role in forming consciousness - which is why it is such a shame that, by such a narrow majority, 14 members of the National Joint Council Committee rejected the wisdom of another 13. A clear national recommendation to reject a pay offer, described as "an insult" by the very Committee that failed to recommend its rejection, would have emboldened our members to deliver a decisive rejection.



We saw, in the run up to 30 November 2011, how - in UNISON - leadership could function to make our trade union an organisation deserving of our pride. In its own way the positive results of this spring's recruitment drive has shown something similar.



In the absence of a positive national lead from the Local Government Service Group (outside Scotland) it falls to Regions and Branches to try to demonstrate such leadership. It's harder to do this successfully at a more local level.



But we have to try.

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