Wednesday, July 23, 2014
All out on 30 September!
It's good that we have a date for further strike action in the fight for fair pay for local government workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - Tuesday 30 September (that's #S30 for those twittering about I imagine).
It won't be easy to persuade members to take further strike action. There is not a tidal wave of such anger that rank and file workers are only being held back by timidity or perfidy within our movement. (That's almost never true).
It is, however, necessary that we persuade our members to take further action if we are to stand a chance of a decent settlement. In order to win this (unavoidably) difficult argument, we need to make a convincing case that the sacrifices which we will ask our members to make will be worthwhile.
That means that we need to demonstrate that we have a coherent, thought out strategy to maximise political pressure on the relevant decision makers to stand a realistic chance of securing a significantly improved pay offer.
I think that those who argued, at yesterday's meeting of the UNISON National Joint Council (NJC) Committee for the previous decision that we should take two consecutive days of strike action can make a plausible claim to having advanced such a strategy. They were, however, in a minority and a decision has been taken for a strike on 30 September and the possibility of further action in October.
We never get to make history in circumstances of our own choosing - and these are certainly not those. What we do get to do, if we are UNISON activists, is follow our leadership when it shows us the sort of leadership the lack of which we so often criticise - even if we have tactical differences.
And for those who are not in UNISON, many of whom have spent some time in recent years criticising the unwillingness of UNISON's leadership to lead the fights that they would like to have seen, here is your test. Can you (in UNITE) set aside illusions in selective action to join us on 30 September and thereafter? Can you (in the NUT) call for the further (united) action on 30 September which will have the impact you have been looking for? Will you (in all unions, including the GMB) join us or will you stand aside?
And - perhaps most importantly of all - will members of UNISON's Health Group Executive accept that a strike ballot which closes on 18 September can support action on 30 September? And will you call for the united action between health and local government which shows what UNISON might be and might achieve?
Should answers to any of these questions begin to emerge I shall be sure to blog further!
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.