This story - from our national website - reports the decision of the Higher Education Service Group Executive (SGE) to accept the employers' pay offer, following a consultation exercise in which 72% of members participating supported this course of action.
That the web story (at least as at 9am Saturday morning) didn't report what the pay offer was (1%) may just be a slip up - but it is perhaps indicative of the confusion and uncertainty around pay which dominates the UNISON Centre.
The 1% pay offer won't be implemented until the conclusion of a disputes procedure likely to be initiated by UCU and UNITE (the unions rejecting 1%), at which UNISON and GMB (having accepted 1%) will be present as observers.
Whilst our members in Higher Education are deciding to accept 1%, we are consulting our members in Further Education on the (non) offer (of 0%) - and activists in branches need to take the lead in recommending rejection if we are to move our Union in the direction of defending our living standards.
At the same time, our members in Probation - having suspended strike action for further talks are being called upon to take two hours of token strike action on 14 July (to protect the lawfulness of their ballot mandate) as UNISON continues to oppose what is - in essence - a 0% "offer" with small one off cash payments for those who won't benefit from incremental progression.
The obvious timidity of the national Union in relation to pay reflects the genuine uncertainty of the membership and the uneven pattern of our consciousness and combativity. This mixed picture is hardly exclusive to UNISON - UCU's rejection of 1% in Higher Education is based upon a 53% vote in a consultative ballot with a 32% turnout (and in which 53% indicated that they were unwilling to take strike action).
It would be absurd to complain that a reluctant leadership are restraining the natural militancy of an angry membership - that isn't what's going on.
The failure of leadership in UNISON (and much of the wider movement) is deeper and more serious than that.
Confronted by an uncertain and timid membership, we appear content to reflect this spirit in the leadership we offer at a national level.
What is needed is a determined approach to outlining a plausible strategy to raise our pay - and a genuine campaign to win the support of our members for this strategy.
The likelihood that UNISON will do this now is, I fear, fairly slender - activists need to do all we can to keep pushing in this direction however we can.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.
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