Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Strike whilst the iron is hot!
The willingness of workers to take strike action is less than it was when I was young.
As I have observed in previous posts, there is more work to be done now in explaining the rationale and justification for the collective withdrawal of labour (even in principle) than was the case in the 1980s.
However, given determined and positive leadership workers will still strike - which is just as well since without that willingness to take action we often have little with which to negotiate.
The idea that somehow "world class negotiators" could resolve the issues which confront trade union members without the need for collective action turned out to have no more shelf-life than the former UNISON NEC member who once expressed that view.
Preparedness to take action is, however, a fairly delicate flower. Weeks (or months) of preparation can be confounded by days (or even hours) of delay.
The "common sense" of our sadly reactionary age is that collective action is as futile as solidarity is misguided - and this "common sense" all too easily reasserts itself - particularly when the conduct of our union seems to reinforce cynicism.
In fact this "common sense", whilst common, is not sensible. Workers standing together can achieve greater justice - and our trade union is far from weak, albeit we are weaker than we were (and our members - and potential members - would have much to gain if we were stronger once more).
If we wish to rebuild the strength of our movement (which is probably the most important task we face) then we must cherish above all a willingness to take collective action - particularly when guided by principled and pragmatic local leadership.
We must ensure that we empower and enable our members to strike whilst the iron is hot.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.