Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tory union-basher shows his true colours

The Tories latest attack on trade unions seems to have blown up in their face this morning with the news that previously unheard of right-wing MP Aidan Burley, Chair of the recently launched (and poorly named) Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) has been socialising in France with nazi-saluting louts one of them dressed in an SS uniform (!)

Burley has been desperately trying to promote his new (mysteriously funded) pressure group with attacks upon trade union facility time, winning praise from the Prime Minister who says trade union time off in the public sector is immoral. Whereas paying the bill for diners in Nazi costumes is beyond reproach?

Our PM may know what it is to be isolated and embarrassed in France, but surely he should now withdraw his endorsement of TURC while it is still associated with Burley? And will the (unnamed) Cabinet member due to speak at TURC's launch event in the Jubilee Room at the House of Commons at 7pm on Tuesday 24 January still turn up if Burley is in the Chair? (Perhaps some trade unionists should turn up to find out...)

Hat tip labour_dave on Twitter (who has been tweeting a bit this morning about his constituency MP!).

Sunday, December 04, 2011

More debate about where we go next on pensions

Following on from the last post, this is the policy agreed unanimously on Friday by the NEC of UCU;


1) 29 unions representing over 3 million public sector workers took strike action on the November 30.
2) The government threat to impose the changes in January and to introduce more trade union laws if the unions don't agree to their demands.
3) That the NUT and PCS executives votes to consider escalating strike action as soon as possible in the new year, including further national coordinated strike action.

1) That the government are attempting to divide the unions. They are trying to intimidate and bully the unions into accepting their paltry revised offers.
2) That, although the government's attempt at an offer is totally unacceptable, it shows that the joint union campaign is having an effect.
3) That the 30th November coordinated strike has transformed the climate of resistance over the fight over pensions.
4) The government is isolated, nasty but weak.
5) That escalating the action quickly and significantly is the key to winning.

1) To propose at the next joint education group meeting that, should no acceptable outcome be achieved in negotiations, the next day of nationally coordinated action to be called as early as possible in the spring term. This day of action to be immediately followed by coordinated regional action. This action to be rolled out across the country creating a Mexican wave effect acting as a bridge to the next day of nationally coordinated strike action. This action to end with a 48 hour nationally coordinated strike.
2) To put this proposal to the TUC public sector coordinating group.

This is a positive contribution to the debate about "where next?" after N30, although I'm not convinced that Regional action would seem like a "Mexican wave" of escalation as it could highlight areas of relative weakness.

Another option being promoted by Paul Kenny is to fundraise from the wider membership to support selective action ( This is always a popular option as it suggests someone else can win a battle on our behalf - but recent experience suggests it is unlikely to be effective. Do we really have the capacity to organise raising millions of pounds a week from the wider membership to fund selective action, even if we can find groups of workers who have that much clout? The Southampton dispute doesn't suggest that this approach alone could lead to an early victory even if we could fund it.

UNISON is considering another option with a possible ballot for "action short of strike" in the Ambulance Service ( Maybe ambulance workers can have an impact with a "work to rule" but with unpaid overtime and imposed "flexibility" widespread in public services, this isn't a tactic which can do much elsewhere, particularly not in areas of lower union density. The recent experience of Barnet UNISON illustrates the limits of this tactic.

We need to find tactics which we think can be effective and which our members can be persuaded to support. This debate is urgent and necessary and every trade union member should be involved.
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Friday, December 02, 2011

Judges rule against us - what shall we do next?

Bad news from the High Court that the judges have supported the Government's sneaky move to link future pension rises to the (lower rising) Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) (which is a better guide to the changing cost of living).


However, it is good to see that the unions will be appealing this judgement, which is also a reminder that the pensions dispute carries on beyond Wednesday's strike – Gregor Gall is asking all the right questions about what we do next, and UNISON members (and other trade unionists) need urgently to have this debate.


The Government are indicating that the "deadline" of 31 December no longer applies, and are hinting that they might make offers to at least some groups of public service workers. This shows that they are rattled and makes it all the more important that the trade unions stand firm.


It won't be easy to persuade our members to take further action, but that is what we have to try to do.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

All out Havering N30 pictures

 couple of pics - i have some more to upload later :0)