Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Local Government Pay proposals ARE a good deal - for the employers...

It has been suggested to me that individual members of UNISON’s National Executive Council really ought not to go sticking our noses into “service group” issues such as the current local government pay dispute. So I'll consider that.

This observation has, however, given me pause for thought as I now realise I made a serious mistake in my assessment of the proposals made by the national employers. When I suggested that there was nothing good about them I was clearly wrong – and I’m not above owning up to a mistake.
The proposals are very good indeed – for the employers. As they put it themselves “this package would have increased the national pay bill by £151,798,061; a saving of £12,857,978 (or 7.81%) in the current financial year, compared to the existing pay offer that the Employers made on 20 March.”

That’s right.

GMB and UNITE national officials wanted to call off strike action and consult their members on a revised offer which they and the employers knew was cheaper for the employers than the 1% offer. Only the common sense of the majority of UNISON’s National Joint Council (NJC) Committee averted this disaster.

Because – make no mistake – every single person who says that their priority is to consult members on this (non) “offer” is either a fool or a liar. Everyone knows that if the industrial action is called off it won’t start again and we will be doomed to accept whatever remains on the table.

It’s similar to the lie that says that the proposals are complex (as if they were some twenty first century equivalent of the Schleswig-Holstein question) – that is just a  device to ensure that activists don’t look closely at these simple proposals and realise that they not only short change the workforce in the current year, but offer next to nothing in future.

Since I have already commented in relation to the GMB I would like to take this opportunity to call out comrades in the United Left in UNITE to justify the conduct of their officials – what are you playing at?

Two things will now happen. At one level, every faint-heart and charlatan in our movement will be hoping that a majority of delegates to the UNISON NJC Committee meeting on Thursday 9 October can be cajoled, bamboozled or intimidated into suspending strike action in order to consult on proposals to which we ought to be responding by placing the officials who helped develop them into a capability procedure.

Meanwhile at the grass roots we need to step up preparations for the strike action on 14 October – that is the second (and more important) thing that has to happen. Activists need to order more strike materials and get them into the hands of our members, organise picket lines and strike day activity and do all that we can to mobilise our members for the most effective action we can possibly deliver.

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