Friday, June 26, 2015
It's still about pay
The news that the Association of Colleges (AoC) (the national employers' organisation for the Further Education sector) has made a 0% pay offer doesn't simply challenge our use of the English language.
(In what sense is an offer of nothing "an offer"?)
More importantly, this development highlights the fact that pay will continue to be a central question for UNISON in the coming year. The indicative ballot which will now take place among our members in FE will not be the last such national ballot in the next few months.
Whilst the election of a majority Conservative Government, and the whirlwind of spending cuts which it will accelerate, may well push other employers to the conclusion arrived at by the AoC - that they cannot afford a pay offer - our members cannot afford continuing pay restraint. We must encourage our members to continue to demand pay increases whatever the financial position of their employers if we are not to collude with the progressive impoverishment of our own people.
The challenges we face in current circumstances cannot, of course, be underestimated. It's one thing to know that you need a pay rise, and quite another to believe that your trade union has a strategy to achieve that pay rise (which is always the most important element of the decision to make the sacrifice of strike action).
In each dispute the relevant Sector Committee will have to map out a strategy for action which could win. This undoubtedly requires the courage to take risks, and the wisdom to appreciate that there are those in our Union for whom national strike action is essentially a recruitment exercise, only ever intended to have a token collective bargaining impact. There is almost no useful strike-winning expertise in the UNISON Centre and therefore little hope of helpful advice from that quarter.
Much energy was expended in Glasgow calling upon us to resist the Tories. Given the likely outcome of such resistance in the short term this year could be our last chance for national action to break the pay freeze. Given the pitiable performance of the majority of the NJC Committee last year it is difficult to be optimistic about the prospect of our members receiving the leadership we need and deserve if we are to win a pay rise in local government - nor does the picture in health look rosier.
Nevertheless, if we are serious about our opposition to this vile Government (and we have to be) we must, as activists, find ways to mobilise and organise support for each pay dispute as it arises, and to coordinate action as best we can.
Pay is the issue which unites our membership.
It's still about pay.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.