Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

UNISON Probation strike action suspended

I was going to blog a message of solidarity to our members of UNISON in the probation service who were to have been taking strike action as part of their pay dispute on Thursday.

Instead I'll offer solidarity to our members (who won't be striking on Thursday) and wish good luck to our negotiators, who are engaging in further talks having secured the employer's assent to an extension of the legal deadline within which industrial action must be taken.

I don't know the background to the tactical decision to postpone action, but it is a device we used following a strike ballot over threatened job losses in Lambeth Libraries a few years ago, achieving our objective of the avoidance of compulsory redundancies.

The law which requires that, in order for the outcome of an industrial action ballot to be effective in providing immunity from civil liability for the trade union (and limited protection from unfair dismissal for our members) action must commence within 28 days of the ballot result includes a clause allowing employers and unions to extend the ‎28 days by up to another 28 days.

I hope the extension bears fruit for our members in probation (and that we can go back to the members with a worthwhile and‎ significant improvement). 

This episode highlights the danger of the suggestion from the Tories that ballots would have an "expiry date" following which they would have to be repeated for action to continue to attract the (limited) legal protections available.
Such a change to the law would invite intransigent employers to "sit out" disputes awaiting the repeated hurdles of further ballots to enable a dispute to continue. 

In an economy where weak wage growth is restraining activity these proposals to strengthen the worst employers aren't just anti-worker, they're anti-prosperity.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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