Monday, October 06, 2014
Let's hold our nerve on pay
I spent a couple of hours this morning leafleting for strike action on 14 October, as I will each day this week (except when offered the enticing alternative of a meeting of our National Executive Council).
There is no reluctance or resistance to the strike call (or - at least - no greater reluctance than there was in the summer, when we delivered action which was, whilst patchy, generally seen as successful).
Our members are not - outside some pockets of exceptional radicalism - straining to be called out on strike. There is, however, a sufficient understanding that strike action is necessary if we are to win a worthwhile pay increase - and a sufficient willingness to take this action.
It is sadly evident that moves are afoot to derail our pay campaign. An unnecessary further meeting of UNISON's National Joint Council (NJC) campaign has been called for Thursday, following regional briefings (with no constitutional standing) which, whilst convened to share information, have been invited to urge the Committee to suspend action.
That this last minute attempt to canvass views has an agenda is made clear by the way in which officials are briefing about the position of the other trade unions. We are told - in the face of contrary evidence on the website of that trade union - that UNITE have already decided to throw in the towel. Whilst GMB branches receive emails from their union telling them to build the strike, we are being told that their national leadership have already agreed to call off the strike if we get a new offer (regardless of what it is??)
These things may or may not be true. They may or may not become true. But when someone drip feeds you information calculated to shake your resolve you have to question their motives.
We received a questionnaire this morning asking branches (amongst other things) what the Union at Regional or national level could do better to support our pay campaign. I hope that the Branch Committee will agree to my recommendation that we include in our response to the questionnaire the observation that we should be asked such a question well in advance - and not at the last minute (alongside questions about our estimates of support for action which are plainly being asked at far too late a stage for any use to be made of the information, other than to lobby for it to be called off).
How should activists respond to these transparent attempts to undermine our campaign? We should treat them with disdain.
We should all still be out there - every day this week - with our leaflets and placards, building support for action on 14 October.
Our Local Government Conference agreed that the NJC pay campaign was a priority for our Union.
Our General Secretary told the TUC that it was the time for us to fight on pay.
Our members need a trade union which seriously tries to improve our living standards.
We should hold our nerve.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.