Friday, October 24, 2014
Yesterday afternoon a group of striking UNITE members from St Mungos brought themselves, a giant inflatable rat and a very effective sound system to the steps of Brixton Town Hall.
They are in dispute with a hostile management who are refusing to bargain on pay, whilst slashing conditions for new starters and rewarding those at the top of the organisation.
They came to Lambeth to highlight their case because Lambeth is one of the local authorities which commissions work from their organisation. It is quite right that workers assert the moral and political responsibility of those who hold the purse strings. UNISON's approach to lobbying the owners of Care UK is another such case in point.
The Government however, are much less keen that trade unions should develop (or even retain the ability lawfully to use) any useful tactics whatsoever to defend workers' interests.
In the aftermath of Labour's self-inflicted Falkirk fiasco, the Tories seized the chance to forge further shackles for our movement, commissioning Bruce Carr QC to investigate allegations of "extreme tactics" in industrial disputes - and to recommend changes to the law.
For once though our opponents over reached themselves and, in the final nail in the coffin of the hopes of the Tory right's "Trade Union Reform Campaign" the final Carr report concludes - nothing at all.
Poor Mr Carr has to accept he couldn't gather enough evidence to draw any conclusions and says nothing about possible legal change. A giant inflatable rat - it seems - is not quite the Sheffield Outrages after all (if you don't know about the Sheffield Outrages I'm not saying more here now because I've got into quite enough trouble in the past for expressing views on strikebreaking).
It would be wrong to think that the Tories (and UKIP's purple Poujadistes) wouldn't further limit our movement if they could - but for now, at least it simply remains as bad as it already was.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.