Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Trade unionism and collective bargaining in London local government

As a UNISON Branch Secretary in London local government I get all manner of excitement. This Thursday that will include a meeting of the Greater London Employers Forum, the remnant of the provincial bargaining machinery which the employers’ sabotaged during the London Weighting dispute early this century.
The London local government workforce consists of some 92,000 employees in a single city. We ought to be a powerful force but, only a minority of us are in trade unions and (whilst UNISON organises the majority of those trade unionists) we are divided both between three different trade unions as well as by the inherent parochialism of our (rightly and inevitably) borough based structures.
UNISON’s Regional Office in Greater London has little apparent interest in organising local government workers or strengthening our bargaining position and each initiative which seeks to defend or improve the position of London local government workers has its origin at branch level (for example this week’s strike in Lambeth libraries, Barnet’s long struggle against cuts and outsourcing and Camden’s success in defeating performance related pay).
When UNISON’s Greater London Regional Council Annual General Meeting was told that the elected lay Chair of our Regional Local Government Committee had not seen the report from that Committee to the meeting before it was printed you know that UNISON’s Regional level organisation of local government workers in London has hit rock bottom.

It’s up to activists in the active branches to turn UNISON into the Union which it could be, worthy of our members and effective in protect our interests. To do this we will need to ensure a healthy quorum at our Regional Local Government Annual General Meeting, and an organised approach to raising our game.

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