Public sector pay disputes 2008

Archived forum thread for discussion of the struggles over cost of living pay increases in the public sector in 2008.

Submitted by Steven. on May 23, 2008

Thread for discussion and updates of public sector pay disputes in 2008, mainly around the annual cost-of-living pay rises, which the government is trying to cap at 2% while inflation is 4.2%.

Coverage on libcom:
http://libcom.org/tags/pay-2008

Related threads:
http://libcom.org/forums/organise/making-pay-claim-2008-14122007
http://libcom.org/forums/organise/local-government-pay-disputes-15022008

last year's thread:
http://libcom.org/forums/organise/uk-public-sector-pay-dispute-nurses-local-gov-civil-service-post-office-etc

Comments

Steven.

16 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on May 23, 2008

Joint NUT/UNISON action now off as UNISON have fucked the strike ballot timetable:
http://libcom.org/news/council-workers-vote-action-22052008

Steven.

15 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 23, 2008

we got our strike vote! word on the street is the Industrial Action Committee will approve it this time:

http://libcom.org/news/local-government-workers-strike-over-pay-23062008

strike will be 2 days 16-17 july

Mike Harman

15 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on June 30, 2008

Unite council workers also due to strike the same day, extra 40,000 people:

FT

A fresh assault on government pay restraint policies was launched yesterday as more council workers decided to join next month's two-day strike. Members of Unite, the country's biggest union, representing 40,000 local government workers, voted by three to one to join the strike on July 16 and 17, which is threatening to disrupt refuse collections, schools and social services.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/91bcc5cc-43e8-11dd-842e-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

Mike Harman

15 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on June 30, 2008

PCS already has a postive ballot for strike action in some departments, and Serwotka's saying they might go out on the same day. Likely.

http://www.24dash.com/news/Communities/2008-06-30-Civil-servants-set-to-join-council-workers-in-national-strike-action

Steven.

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 30, 2008

fuckin a! I've been rallying people the past few days, got meetings about the strike organised for thursday. responses mostly positive. Some people a bit scared about losing 2 days pay, but looking solid...

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 1, 2008

Council workers in Scotland also being balloted now: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7482675.stm

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 1, 2008

Sellafield is being balloted: http://www.fleetwoodtoday.co.uk/latest-north-west-news/Sellafield-workers-to-vote-on.4231713.jp

Alf

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on July 6, 2008

Steven, Catch, et al....have you discussed the possibility of a new look (and hopefully renamed) Dispatch for these strikes?

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 7, 2008

Alf, yes.

HSE staff going to work to rule, overtime ban, withdrawal of good will over a relocation:
http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5goWKZSI5gVgmrwoh_iIX9sqiR10g

Alf

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on July 7, 2008

Ok, let us know what you decide.

We have produced the front page of the new World Revolution in PDF format which can be downloaded as a leaflet:

http://en.internationalism.org/files/en/wr316-united-struggle-needed.pdf

Joseph Kay

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 8, 2008

BBC bosses get pay rises in the region of 33% while staff pay is capped at 2% - but it's ok because they're based on similar rises at the Royal Mail, Network Rail and the private sector, and they have to remain 'competitive.'

So 'competitive' means 'massive pay rise' if you're rich already, and 'work longer for less to compete with chinese sweatshop workers' if you're not. I see.

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 8, 2008

Looks like FE lecturers will be asked to accept 3.2% following strikes:

UCU

FE pay – Further Education Committee publishes statement
UCU’s Further Education committee met today and issued a statement on the employers’ final offer of 3.2% from October. The Committee expressed its disappointment that the offer was below inflation, amounting to a real terms pay cut, but noted that it was one of the highest in the public sector and it congratulated members for their determination in taking action to win this offer. The FEC statement also noted that other unions were generally putting the offer out to consultation as ‘the best that can be achieved by negotiated means’ or were recommending acceptance. If rejected, UNISON would call for sustained and escalating industrial action. The Committee agreed that UCU’s position should be based on the fullest possible consultation with members and knowing the full results of the other trade union consultation. It has therefore called a special sector conference on 20 September to decide whether we should accept the offer as the best that can be achieved through negotiation or whether to proceed with further strike action. It will consider whether to ballot the full membership on the offer and how best to pursue the campaign for pay parity in the future. Branches will be urged to call meetings in September ahead of this conference. Full details will be sent next week. To read the full FEC statement, click here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/abetterdeal

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 10, 2008

Argos are going out on the 17th and 24th July. Then a staggered four day strike on the 30th (each depot for four days, but staggered starts, so a total of six days)

http://www.tgwu.org.uk/Templates/News.asp?NodeID=94411&int1stParentNodeID=42438&int2ndParentNodeID=89396&Action=Display

Steven.

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 10, 2008

strikes looking ok in my dept so far... looking forward to it

my hand is actually on the front page of the unison site at the moment, ha ha

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 11, 2008

Alf, as we both know, wages are the cost of reproduction of labour power. Fair pay would then be the full cost of reproduction of the worker. It's quite fundamental to Marx's arguments in Capital that wages are fair, an equal exchange, and that the exploitation of labour power occurs within the productive process, after the exchange of equivalents has taken place.

Alf

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on July 11, 2008

That's true, but it didn't prevent Marx from attacking the slogan 'a fair days work for a fair day's pay' as a 'conservative motto'. I don't think we should use slogans which hide the process of exploitation. The idea of 'fairness' clearly does this which is why I don't think you'll find it in Marx.

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 11, 2008

Unison fucked up a notification in Tyneside so a bunch of people can't strike. Reminiscent of the CWU last year when a whole bunch of places were excluded from some of the rolling strikes and had to do different days. What's interesting is the angry quotes from the local rag complaining about the back down:

http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/Union-blunder-bars-staff-from.4280062.jp

But Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (Ucatt) executive council member Wilf Flynn said: "I cannot believe such retrenchment so quickly.

"I'm sure Margaret Thatcher threatened the miners with legal action in the 1980s, but they still went on strike for their principles.

"I can't believe that Unison have back down on this. This is the first time I've encountered a situation like this one in South Tyneside.

"Unison denied outright in Tuesday's Gazette that there would be any legal problems with the strike."

In an e-mail to Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, Mr Flynn called the situation a "lost opportunity".

One worker from STH said: "I can't believe the whole strike has fallen through because of a so-called 'administrative complication'.

"Unions are supposed to represent the workers, yet they've backed down over a cock-up. Union members here are furious."

Beltov

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Beltov on July 14, 2008

Mike Harman

Looks like FE lecturers will be asked to accept 3.2% following strikes:

UCU

It has therefore called a special sector conference on 20 September to decide whether we should accept the offer as the best that can be achieved through negotiation or whether to proceed with further strike action. It will consider whether to ballot the full membership on the offer and how best to pursue the campaign for pay parity in the future.

The feeling I get from my FE colleagues is that they are very pissed off with rising prices and some of them who had never been on a demonstration before took part in a march through the city centre. I'd say UCU is very worried that if it goes to a ballot then the 3.2% offer would be rejected. Hence the emergency conference and branch meetings to gauge the situation and manage the outcome. I wouldn't be suprised if it went either way.

Our Principal has already given us 3% from August regardless of what happens, and was very confused about why staff were taking strike action in support of a national pay claim. Then on the *very last* day of term, when most staff were in the pub enjoying a liquid lunch, the HR department sent an e-mail announcing the opening of a 'voluntary redundancy scheme'. The government funding (via the LSC) for huge amounts of 'in college' provision has been slashed, which will mean we'll be turning away thousands of applicants in the autumn and pointing them in the direction of the Job Centre. Watch the unemployment figures rise in the autumn...

It's getting much easier for workers to see the connections between the cuts in state spending leading to low increases in pay which are being eaten up by inflation. Who said education was a good place to be during a recession?!?!

B.

Steven.

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 14, 2008

Mike Harman

Unison fucked up a notification in Tyneside so a bunch of people can't strike.

apparently this has happened in a few places. a side effect of the anti-union laws.

madashell

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by madashell on July 15, 2008

I've spoken to a few people at some of the council run places I've been to, half of them knew nothing about it. Apparently care homes are "exempt" from all of this anyway, which is unfortunate, but it'd hard to get around the fact that if nobody's working, a lot of our residents would starve to death or have a serious accident, slow downs aren't really an option either.

Alf

That's true, but it didn't prevent Marx from attacking the slogan 'a fair days work for a fair day's pay' as a 'conservative motto'. I don't think we should use slogans which hide the process of exploitation. The idea of 'fairness' clearly does this which is why I don't think you'll find it in Marx.

The important thing thing being the exact political ramifications of the slogans on Unison placards :roll:

Beltov

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Beltov on July 15, 2008

madashell

The important thing thing being the exact political ramifications of the slogans on Unison placards :roll:

But surely these are political slogans that are carefully selected by the unions? At one level the Unison slogan reinforces the illusion that capitalism can be reformed to give workers 'fair pay'. It also hides the 'unfairness' of workers being exploited, of having surplus labour extracted. It's the appropriation of unpaid labour that's the problem, which only the abolition of the wages system can overcome. Surely that's what we should be pointing out to our co-workers?

I also noticed that there is a 'day of protest' in the NHS on Friday:
http://www.amicustheunion.org/default.aspx?page=8614

FInally, with inflation today jumping to 3.8%, if FE staff accept the 3.2% offer from the AoC then that's already a 0.6% pay cut, and with inflation surely to be higher in the autumn this differential will increase. Even FE lecturers should be able to do the maths on that one!

madashell

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by madashell on July 15, 2008

Beltov

But surely these are political slogans that are carefully selected by the unions? At one level the Unison slogan reinforces the illusion that capitalism can be reformed to give workers 'fair pay'. It also hides the 'unfairness' of workers being exploited, of having surplus labour extracted.

I don't think it's as sinister as all that, trade unions are not revolutionary organisations, so they're obviously not going to produce placards that call for the overthrow of capitalism. In any case, of all the shitty things Unison does, coming up with slogans that don't account for a Marxist critique of wage labour is not the worst.

It's the appropriation of unpaid labour that's the problem, which only the abolition of the wages system can overcome. Surely that's what we should be pointing out to our co-workers?

Kind of difficult to fit on a placard though ;)

Spikymike

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 15, 2008

So on strike for two days tomorrow and picketing the Town Hall. Unison notices etc out very late but did arrive.

I have struggled to win anyone of the 'non union' fellow workers over on solidariy grounds, they are sympathetic but not suprisingly sceptical about our abillity to win, especially with the likes of Unison.

I am also hearing stories of 'cock ups' over notices to some of the newly formed 'housing Co's' which have taken Council Stock but still have workers on Council contracts (though they are in a minority in many cases).

Still trying to find out more about the wages rounds in these new Co's. Many workers actually got better deals when these were first set up but I'm sure 'divide and rule' will come even more into it's own as the current economic downturn takes effect.

I am going to try and dig out more info' on this issue. You get nothing from Unison so have to do a bit of my own research.

martinh

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by martinh on July 15, 2008

Funnily enough on the subject of "fair pay" the cheif executive of Lewisham council, possibly the country's weakest unison branch, sent out a patronising notice to all their staff saying the offer was "fair". Of course for him it probably is- 2.45% of a six figure sum is fairly tasty. He added that the lowest grades would all get £100 extra a year - which will probably just about cover the increase in council tax, let alone the other price rises.

Regards,

Martin

Beltov

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Beltov on July 15, 2008

madashell

Kind of difficult to fit on a placard though ;)

Engels proposed this alternative (apologies for long quote, but it is actually quite a short article):

A Fair Day's Wages for a Fair Day's Work

...A fair day's wages for a fair day's work? But what is a fair day's wages, and what is a fair day's work? How are they determined by the laws under which modern society exists and develops itself? For an answer to this we must not apply to the science of morals or of law and equity, nor to any sentimental feeling of humanity, justice, or even charity. What is morally fair, what is even fair in law, may be far from being socially fair...

...A fair day's wages, under normal conditions, is the sum required to procure to the labourer the means of existence necessary, according to the standard of life of his station and country' to keep himself in working order and to propagate his race. The actual rate of wages, with the fluctuations of trade, may be sometimes above, sometimes below this rate; but, under fair conditions, that rate ought to be the average of all oscillations. A fair day's work is that length of working day and that intensity of actual work which expends one day's full working power of the workman without encroaching upon his capacity for the same amount of work for the next and following days.

The transaction, then, may be thus described — the workman gives to the Capitalist his full day's working power; that is, so much of it as he can give without rendering impossible the continuous repetition of the transaction. In exchange he receives just as much, and no more, of the necessaries of life as is required to keep up the repetition of the same bargain every day. The workman gives as much, the Capitalist gives as little, as the nature of the bargain will admit. This is a very peculiar sort of fairness.

But let us look a little deeper into the matter. As, according to political economists, wages and working days are fixed by competition, fairness seems to require that both sides should have the same fair start on equal terms. But that is not the case. The Capitalist, if he cannot agree with the Labourer, can afford to wait, and live upon his capital. The workman cannot. He has but wages to live upon, and must therefore take work when, where, and at what terms he can get it. The workman has no fair start. He is fearfully handicapped by hunger. Yet, according to the political economy of the Capitalist class, that is the very pink of fairness.

But this is a mere trifle. The application of mechanical power and machinery to new trades, and the extension and improvements of machinery in trades already subjected to it, keep turning out of work more and more "hands"; and they do so at a far quicker rate than that at which these superseded "hands" can be absorbed by, and find employment in, the manufactures of the country. These superseded "hands" form a real industrial army of reserve for the use of Capital. If trade is bad they may starve, beg, steal, or go to the workhouse; if trade is good they are ready at hand to expand production; and until the very last man, woman, or child of this army of reserve shall have found work — which happens in times of frantic over-production alone — until then will its competition keep down wages, and by its existence alone strengthen the power of Capital in its struggle with Labour. In the race with Capital, Labour is not only handicapped, it has to drag a cannon-ball riveted to its foot. Yet that is fair according to Capitalist political economy.

But let us inquire out of what fund does Capital pay these very fair wages? Out of capital, of course. But capital produces no value. Labour is, besides the earth, the only source of wealth; capital itself is nothing but the stored-up produce of labour. So that the wages of Labour are paid out of labour, and the working man is paid out of his own produce. According to what we may call common fairness, the wages of the labourer ought to consist in the produce of his labour. But that would not be fair according to political economy. On the contrary, the produce of the workman's labour goes to the Capitalist, and the workman gets out of it no more than the bare necessaries of life. And thus the end of this uncommonly "fair" race of competition is that the produce of the labour of those who do work, gets unavoidably accumulated in the hands of those that do not work, and becomes in their hands the most powerful means to enslave the very men who produced it.

A fair day's wages for a fair day's work! A good deal might be said about the fair day's work too, the fairness of which is perfectly on a par with that of the wages. But that we must leave for another occasion. From what has been stated it is pretty clear that the old watchword has lived its day, and will hardly hold water nowadays. The fairness of political economy, such as it truly lays down the laws which rule actual society, that fairness is all on one side — on that of Capital. Let, then, the old motto be buried for ever and replaced by another:

Possession of the Means of Work —
Raw Material, Factories, Machinery —
By the Working People Themselves.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881/05/07.htm

Spikymike

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 16, 2008

Whilst at any particular point in time an increase or decrease in the likes of income tax will affect workers wage level, in the longer run it would be more accurate to say that in Marxian terms that taxes are essentially on rents and profits rather than wages and that most tax issues are essentially matters of dispute between different sections of the ruling class.

Spikymike

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 16, 2008

But back to the strike.

It looks like a lot of services in Manchester -Social Services, Libraries, Housing benefits etc were closed today but with only very small pickets viseable.

My stint on the morning Town Hall picket I have to say was pretty demoralising. It was small, made up mostly of the regular Union officials and a handful of lefties. I didn't see hundreds going into work but lots of workers, union members and non union members,did cross the picket line with very few bothering to stop and argue.

I have to say that in the area I work in it was non union members who showed the least understanding of the issues and the least sense of the need for solidarity. In this sense at least, whilst union membership guarantees nothing in itself (and the unions have operated in their usual divisive way) the drop in union membership in some areas does seem to reflect a a general lessening in basic class awareness.

No rallies or meetings organised by anyone as far as I am aware and few opportunities so far to distribute any more radical leaflets. We will see what tomorrow brings.

I would be interested to get feedback from others over the two days strike in other areas.

Steven.

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 17, 2008

my first day mixed but good, will post proper update friday.

jack's was excellent! he'll post too...

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 17, 2008

I wasn't on strike (UCU - who probably won't be on strike until next year, and Unison workers at my job weren't included in the strike action), but popped out to Lincoln Inn Fields/Holborn on my lunch break for the Unison rally/march. Met up with Ed, Steven. and Alf, and handed out some Tea Breaks. Wasn't that many people there - somewhere between 800 - 2000, and at least 50 were lefties of one sort or another. I spotted SWP, SP, Workers Power, Permanent Revolution, NewsLine probably a couple of others. A fair few contingents from Unison locals (and one NUT), so quite weighted towards left groups and union activists. Tea Break was well received - even got asked for a copy due to the name, but the high ratio of lefties to normal people made me feel dirty... I did a bit of the march, then had to go back to work - so not sure how the rally at the end was.

Ed

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on July 17, 2008

I thought the march was alright considering that Unison made no effort to publicise it. A LOT of Trots (add AWL to catch's list) but yeah, a fair few Unison branches, I spotted two NUT banners and there was a contingent from Unite as well. Got talking to a guy who used to be in Direct Action Movement and generally when we talked to people about what Tea Break was about they liked it. Just a shame we only had a few hundred to give out and three of us to do it. If anyone wants to give us a hand in the future, that'd be ace.

About the strikes themselves, I wasn't striking (unemployed, not a scab :p ) but from talking to people who were striking the general trend was that well organised depts were solid, and less organised ones less so. I reckon that a clear majority of Unison members were on strike, amounting to over half of council workers. The news said the north was more solid than the south too..

Also, a massive thanks to posi for sorting us out with printing.. :)

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 18, 2008

Tories

Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that in the first 11 months of Brown's premiership over 900,000 working days were lost to strike action, almost three times the number lost in the same period in the previous year.

Wales Online says there's a possible 72-hour strike planned for September if no deal:

As a resolution to the bitter pay dispute seemed to be slipping further away, a union leader said teaching assistants, caretakers and cooks were ready to join colleagues in a further 72-hour walkout in September if their demands for more money were not met.

But the resolve of the Welsh Local Government Association appeared to be equally as strong, with chief executive Steve Thomas reiterating the disputed 2.45% offer was “full and final” and “rock-solid”.

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 18, 2008

Coastguards strike is on, looks a bit shaky: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7513105.stm

Steven.

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 18, 2008

here's my account:

For a bit of background, I work in a children's social services department in a London council. I work in a team of 60 in a building of about 600.

The buildup to the strike was quite rocky, the timing of it was very bad for school workers, it being so near to the end of term. The fact that it was for two days was another barrier for some people as with prices being so high it's very difficult to lose two days pay.

However as time went on people's resolve hardened. Many people were very excited on strike, not just because of the pay but because of a combination of all their everyday work frustrations. In my department these are predominantly related to excessive workloads, stress, service cuts and bullying management.

We had some good shop meetings in the run-up to the strike, picked up a good few new members and some new stewards as well in previously unorganised departments. So we had some previously unorganised departments with staff getting organised and looking forward to taking action. Some departments we didn't get round to though unfortunately.

During the strike I was picketing from 6:30 a.m. both days. We had about 20 pickets all told, with a peak at one time of about 16 but had four entrances to cover, so it wasn't huge but we managed to cover every entrance from 630 to 1130, by which time anyone who is going to be in would be in.

The pickets were mostly stewards, but with a few people from my team that I'd got to come down.

There was a slow trickle of people coming in, mostly agency workers and non-union members. We recruited a couple of people on the picket line who then joined us on strike. We turned away a few workers in other unions such as NUJ members and Unison members in nonstriking companies such as the cleaner, and turned away a few people coming to meetings, Royal mail workers, etc.

In some ways it's a bit depressing being on a picket line because you only see people going into work and not all the other striking, but when looking at the actual numbers of people going into work it was a very low. Not more than about 20 or 30 went in each entrance, and most of them had the decency to look very embarrassed that. One or two were aggressive and I'm trying to remember who they were so I'm not nice to them in future!

On Wednesday we joined the London region demonstration put on by Unite and Unison. The unions didn't put much effort into publicising it, just some crappy photocopied leaflets are still the turnout was pretty good - a couple of thousand workers. By far the largest group of workers were school workers, low paid, mostly women teaching assistants and nursery nurses.

I helped give out some Tea Breaks to quite a good response, a few people intrigued by the name, before being roped into carrying our banner. Also met a couple of old faces who I didn't realise worked in local government so got some contact details for future collaboration, which was really good.

A common word being used by a lot of people to describe the action was "mixed" but overall good, and that would coincide with my view. The well-organised departments were solid and a poorly organised ones with low or just passive union membership weren't very good. A large majority of union members were out though and at my place a majority of staff as a whole were.

That it was for two days makes it pretty impressive I think. It's been very good for organisation as a whole, and to unite and inspire our staff.

It has also shown up areas of weakness and wearing you to work on before the next one. Big areas here are the poorly organised departments and the agency workers, and trying to build the general realisation that the strikes are not just about pay but about us sticking together. Because if we stick together on pay then we show that we have to be listened to on issues like workloads and service cuts.

Alf

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on July 18, 2008

I'm on holiday and came to the demo in shorts and sandals, and gave out copies of the lead article of World Revolution produced as a leaflet (on reflection it was too long and had to compete with a lot of long leftist leaflets as well) ....Good to meet up with the libcom comrades there and I think that Tea Break is a positive initiative -as I have argued before there is a lot of potential for this kind of workers' bulletin/collective as a focus for militants who see the need for some basic self-organisation and extension and are not committed to the unions or the illusion of building a new union. There was a discussion at the pub afterwards with myself, Steven and Ed where we went round the question of whether or not communists should be shop stewards (joined by chance by Luther Blisset). Steven's account of the strike at his workplace is interesting but I think it points to the problem of militants who are shop stewards reinforcing the trade union as the only legitimate form of organisation, whatever they may think about the role of the unions overall.

There was a lively atmosphere at the demo (despite the crap 'fair pay' slogan) but I thought it was significant how small it was. Unison have done everything possible to avoid a big demonstration anywhere - in Birmingham they had some kind of motorised parade I think. 2,000 council workers in central London is a really small number and I think it shows how much Unison wanted to avoid any disruption of the daily grind.

little_brother

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by little_brother on July 20, 2008

Nottingham reports:
Feature: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/07/404166.html
Day1: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/07/403869.html
Day2: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/nottinghamshire/2008/07/404073.html

Spikymike

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on July 20, 2008

I'm glad to see other comrades able to give some more positive feedback.

A lot of schools, libraries, social services, housing benefit and other offices closed in Manchester. Main rubbish collection was cancelled but the Council paid the privatised green collection to scab on the others later in the week.

Our Town Hall picket line in the morning of day two was much the same as before and not overly succesful. Reports of the strike subsequently suggested the turnout was mixed.

The Manchester Unison branch organisers did absolutely no prior organisation/publicity for this action apart from one leaflet delivered to peoples homes shortly before the strike. What support there was I suspect resulted from a general feeling of being 'pissed off ' with a whole load of stuff going on at present.

Only one good argument on the picket line prompted by one ex Unison activist having a go at Unison officials about their support for the divisive 'single status' agreement.

No local meetings or rallies organised so no real opportunities to distribute 'Tea Break' or the ICC leaflet (which I had copied earlier).

No sign of other AF/Sol Fed members around although they may have gone to other local pickets?

Alf

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on July 22, 2008

Can I suggest that prior to the next big national strike,which may not be for a while but is bound to happen, whether in local government, health, education, or whatever, the Tea Break 'collective' calls a physical meeting (or meetings) where there can be a discussion on how to take this initiative forward?

Mike Harman

15 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on July 22, 2008

Telegraph predicts most strike days since the '80s, Bank of England inflation targets might go up, possibly an injection of borrowed cash into public sector spending: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/07/22/cnpay122.xml

Spikymike

15 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on August 6, 2008

So as LA workers in England, Wales and NI end our two day strike over pay (UNISON, UNITE but not GMB), Scottish LA workers vote for a one day strike in August (during the school holidays but apparently involving all three main unions). May be some co-incidental civil service action at the same time. It seems we still have a long way to go to get united action accross the Union divisions.

Meanwhile the sorry results of another Union deal on 'single status' start to roll out. Following the Birmingham dispute (how did that end if it has?) our local rag the MEN reported that Leeds Council has threatened 1100 workers who have refused to sign new reduced wage contract with the sack come October. Does anyone have any more info on this or similar disputes??

UNISON is talking further negotiation over the summer on the wage deal though there is no sign of any significant shift in the employers stance at present.

What chances of a united action during September, maybe around the Labour Confernece time or in the lead up? Not much I suppose if UNISON has it's way. Is there any push for this from other quarters?

Steven.

15 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on August 6, 2008

Hey Mike, as for the negotiations, before the strike the employers wouldn't even meet with the unions. They have put out some joint statement saying they recognise "a new era of employment" must start

I think the feeling years they might cave a little on the pay, in return for some attacks on conditions - one big thing they want to cut is antisocial hours pay, which is pretty good on NJC.

Lecturers have been offered a slightly improved 3.2% over 10 months (2.7% really this year), and apparently the DWP have just been offered 3%, so looks like we might get something

United action in September seems unlikely. If the DWP settle they'll be out of it, the NUT has to re-ballot so won't be able to strike until November. Unison are in negotiations until mid-September, so add the weeks notice to that and October looks like maybe the earliest, or late September at the earliest.

PCS are organising 12 weeks of disruption of various kinds, but not sure when that is yet.

After the last strike I think Unison leadership have been told that their plan to hold longer strikes of three or four days won't work because branches won't be able to pull out enough members,, which is very unfortunate. them making the strike for two days did seem to put a lot of people off. But it's tricky.

Apparently bus drivers in London for a few different companies have all rejected their pay offers by about 98%, so there could be some really interesting action there, but I haven't looked it up properly yet...

Spikymike

15 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on August 9, 2008

Thanks Steven.

Still hoping for some feedback on the Leeds dispute and now similar rumblings in Bury - I'm sure this Union 'single status' deal must be unravelling in other places too.

Will cross reference this on the North thread.

Steven.

15 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on August 9, 2008

Okay cool

Have now looked into the bus dispute thing. Campaigning for a single scale system for bus drivers across London, and 98% of their members voted for it. However it wasn't a ballot for strike action. They're having some demo about it though.

With single status, a lot of places have sorted their deal. Some ended up with pretty good deals, where workers were well organised, like Islington where only two posts got downgraded, and they deleted loads of the bottom scale points, so minimum wage at that Council is something like nine pounds 20 an hour

Ed

15 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on September 2, 2008

The beginning of the end? http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=4779

The way forward for local government
(01/09/08) Trade unions and local government employers in England, Northern Ireland and Wales have confirmed their aim to resolve the current dispute over pay "as soon as possible".

In a joint statement issued today to all council chief executives, they reaffirmed that all parties were committed to negotiations that aimed to secure an employment package "which is fit for the future, with positive industrial relations, high quality and efficient local services".

And they pledged to work together "to identify ways of using general efficiency savings to improve the pay and conditions of the local government workforce".

The statement has been signed by all the NJC joint secretaries. It provides the framework for further discussions and holds out hopes that a revised national agreement will have been endorsed by both sides and consulted on by the end of this year.

"The revised national agreement will include core conditions of service that bear comparison with conditions elsewhere in the public sector," it says.

Negotiations will be informed by data on the pay bill, workforce composition, earnings and conditions of service.

Bobby

15 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bobby on September 2, 2008

some info on the public strikes from the north
http://www.wsm.ie/news_viewer/4259

Steven.

15 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on September 3, 2008

Yeah Ed the employers and unions released a statement like that when they started negotiations after the strike.

Basically it looks like the employers are looking to trade off a pay increase against some cut in conditions somewhere - possibly on antisocial hours pay, which is pretty high on NJC, from 1.5 to two times normal rate.

On the union side, UNISON is consulting all branches to see how money people will be prepared to have all out strikes of 1 to maybe three or four days, or alternatively individual sections, their densities and how many of them are prepared to strike from one day to indefinitely.

Any new proposal will have to be put to the membership in a ballot, but UNISON have been very keen to avoid any kind of action at all. Any tiny concessions made - even if they're not real concessions since the employers will scrape their money back elsewhere - may well be presented as a big victory for the union. When they did this after the pension strike despite workers actually suffering cuts union presented it as a huge victory and 96% of members backed an end to the industrial action campaign. So if they do this, I think the membership will accept it. A fair chunk of the membership hasn't embraced these strikes, but this just reflects the obvious halfhearted nature of the union leadership. Just simply comparing strike media coming out from UNISON to say the PCS or NUT and the differences become very obvious. The NUT and PCS have been acting militant in order to try to attract new members. UNISON have been half-heartedly saying members should strike while actually demoralising and demobilising workers.

Steven.

15 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on September 24, 2008

Well, it's a good thing UNISON stepped in to fuck us over now. Otherwise we might have ended up having united action with the teachers or civil servants.
http://libcom.org/news/local-government-pay-unions-cave-24092008

Following a sham "consultation" exercise UNISON negotiators, backed by Unite and the GMB, have called in government arbitrators ACAS to make a binding agreement which members will be unable to vote on.

Steven.

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on November 7, 2008

Will write this up for new shortly, but things don't look good (unsurprisingly)

NUT ballot returned a very very narrow vote in favour -51.6% - so is the leadership decided not to call any strikes.

The PCS were scheduled to have a nationwide walkout on Monday (10 November) but following the teachers decision they have now called off, as they had arranged it on the basis of joint action with teachers.

Django

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Django on November 7, 2008

Interestingly as my workplace was due to strike (though less than half of the staff were going to participate), some of us temp agency workers were attempting to get some basic solidarity going. Half of those I work with currently weren't going to cross pickets, another listened thoughtfully to arguments she'd never encoutered before, wheras the rest thought it was mental to get involved in a dispute which didn't, to them, concern us. Surprisingly, this included someone who has said that all the problems in Britain today were thanks to Thatcher.

Now the strike is cancelled the afternoon of films we had lined up is off. :(

Alf

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on November 7, 2008

This could be covered in Tea Break - it's a pretty large scale cancellation!

Alf

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Alf on November 7, 2008

A definite advantage about the unions is that they can engage in secret talks with the government:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/nov/07/tradeunions-whitehall

Civil servants call off one day strike

Secret talks between the Public and Commercial Services Union and the government has led to action being suspendedDavid Hencke, Westminster correspondent guardian.co.uk, Friday November 7 2008 13.27 GMT Article historyA national one-day strike by 260,000 civil servants on Monday has been called off, the Public and Commercial Services Union announced today.

The Guardian understands secret talks between the union and the government led to the union suspending action, reserving the right to call another strike within 28 days if no progress is made on talks.

The strike would have hit Jobcentres, driving tests, customs checks, museums, court services, and also seen the first industrial action taken by security staff at the House of Commons.

Whitehall sources say neither side would have benefited from industrial action. The government would have faced widespread disruption, low paid civil servants would have lost pay and a planned overtime ban would have left them short of cash in the run up to Christmas - just when fuel bills are rising rapidly.

ernie

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ernie on November 12, 2008

Yahoo was carrying an article saying that 77000 NHS members of UNITE had voted for strike action over the pay deal. UNISON is talking about renegotiating the deal it cooked up the the government. There is clearly a growing discontent in the NHS, however, it is being nicely carved up by the unions.

Refused

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on November 17, 2008

I got an e-mail about 3rd December being the "day of action". The word "strike" is not used once. :D

Steven.

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on November 18, 2008

Have people been discussing any other way of taking action than striking?

It's going to be difficult for such a tiny minority union to do much...

Refused

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on November 19, 2008

Well the union wants us to (on Dec 3rd) stick to our AfC job descriptions and not do any of the extra shit that we're currently not getting paid for. For some employees this may be a lot of stuff, for others it won't be.

Steven.

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on November 19, 2008

From that day, or just on that day?

Refused

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on November 19, 2008

Just on that day.

jef costello

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on November 26, 2008

Union reps at my school have consulted with management, I'm holding out no hopes but wil try to get hold of a copy of the report.

Steven.

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on November 26, 2008

What do you mean? What kind of school are you at? As far as I'm aware, all of the schools disputes over. Maybe not sixth form colleges...

Refused, do you think there's any way a one day work to rule could have any effect? In which areas?

Refused

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on November 27, 2008

I personally think it's a desperate attempt to avoid calling a strike. The problem is that many health workers, when faced with a patient will do the extra shit anyway if not doing it will affect the patient's care. For others it will mean inconveniencing themselves later on down the line. And as i've said, some workers do a lot more that they don't get paid for than others. Having discussed with colleagues, the morale seems to be low and has been since way before Unison voted to accept the current pay deal.

Here's the full text from the e-mail:

"All NHS Employers have been advised that Unite NHS members will be taking industrial action short of strike action on Wednesday, 3rd December 2008 consisting of a ban on overtime and work to rule including, non-exhaustively, a ban on non-essential paperwork, email exchanges, attendance at meetings, telephone calls and using personal mobiles, members will also be asked to work to their Agenda for Change pay responsibilities.

We want this day of action to send a strong message to Ministers that our members are very angry at the continuation of below inflation pay awards, in effect, pay cuts, and the undermining of the Pay Review Body. For the majority of members this will be the first time that you have ever participated in industrial action which indicates that your goodwill has now been stretched to breaking point. The action on the day will focus on patient and client care and emergency cover will be maintained."

Steven.

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on November 27, 2008

What do you, or other people, think about having a strike? I suppose a majority of the people that voted voted for it. But do you think people could win, with such a small minority membership?

Joseph Kay

15 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on November 27, 2008

NHS executive salaries up 26-32%, after NHS workers forced to accept 1.9%. inflation has been at 4%+, but for basics like foodstuffs, energy bills and housing costs which make up a disproportionate amount of lower-paid workers budgets it's been running at nearer 10%. i suppose tactless bosses are a propaganda gift.

Refused

15 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on December 1, 2008

Steven.

What do you, or other people, think about having a strike? I suppose a majority of the people that voted voted for it. But do you think people could win, with such a small minority membership?

I would go on strike, but recognise at this stage it is only a symbolic gesture. The mood around this struggle is low, and I would not expect it to force any renegotiations with UNISON having caved already. Strikes among healthworkers is always a thorny issue. If I recall correctly (I don't remember on which thread) it was lem who raised a point regarding not automatically villifying people who crossed the picket as he did once because he had concerns about the welfare of the patients on his ward. The people in my office would not be in that situation and as far as I can tell would favour a strike, but some people might not for that reason.
It is my experience that many clinical healthworkers are often bullied by management against taking any form of industrial action, which is something that obviously happens in other workplaces as well. Still, I think it's a relevant point.

jef costello

15 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on December 1, 2008

I think there's an extra layer of moral pressure with any 'caring' profession.

Ed

15 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on December 17, 2008

Looks like the buses are reballoting for strike action over pay..
http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=16626

Socialist Worker

Three crucial ballots will take place on the London buses in the next week. The outcome of these votes could decide the future of the Unite union’s campaign to win equal and higher pay and better conditions across all the bus companies in London.

At Metroline and Arriva North – two of London’s biggest bus companies – workers are set to vote over new pay offers. At Sovereign, part of the Transdev group, workers are to start a ballot over strike action.

davidbroder

15 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by davidbroder on January 1, 2009

An article by Steve Ryan from Wrexham PCS about the calling-off of the 10th November strike and the subsequent collapse of Serwotka's "dispute"...

http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/civil-service-pay-dispute-defeat-or-victory/

Refused

15 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Refused on January 26, 2009

Thanks for that article.

The latest Unite newsletter has no mention of an NHS healthworker strike or indeed any kind of industrial action.