Friday, November 09, 2007

Has Anyone Seen The 'Co-ordinated Industrial Action'?

Earlier this year, Gordon Brown threw down the gauntlet to public sector trade unions by announcing that pay rises would be restricted to 2%. Yes, workers who provide public services would have to swallow a real-terms pay cut. The only thing that could stand in the way of this insult would be an effective trade union fightback. Gauntlet thrown down.

Not only would each union need to fight back, but to maximise their chances of success, their strengths should be combined into a united, coherent resistance. Acknowledging that, there was much talk at TUC Congress of co-ordinated action. More than mere talk, indeed. There were loud demands, hearty applause, and a unanimous resolution (click here and scroll down to Composite 13).

So where are we with this 'co-ordinated industrial action'? The Prison Officers' Association's campaign has gone quiet since its inspiring action in the summer. The CWU is asking posties to abandon their solid strikes and cut the throats of their own working conditions by voting for a deal that gives Royal Mail virtually everything they want. Unison got a narrow Yes vote for industrial action, but decided not to call action because of a low turnout that was easily explained by the postal strike. NUT's Executive decided on a torturously long process creeping towards possible strikes, voting down a proposal for a quicker timescale. The other teaching unions shudder at the very thought of strikes. And now PCS's Executive has decided on no more strikes this year, despite winning a two-thirds membership vote for action, for the sake of talks with the Cabinet Office that will almost certainly prove futile (good job 'the Marxists' are in charge at that union HQ then!).

In summary ... Some unions are doing nothing. Some are moving so slowly a tortoise could overtake them. And others have thrown in the towel already. This 'action' could not be less 'co-ordinated' if the policy was explicitly for 'unco-ordinated action'. Of course there's one very easy route to united action - everyone do nothing. Gordon will be laughing all the way to the bank.

As ever, the only hope lies with the rank-and-file. Which is why it is good to see this website - and this one, too.

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