Trade union issues

30 November: the biggest strike since 1926

Submitted by Matthew on 12 October, 2011 - 11:48

Not since the General Strike of 1926 has there been any comparable move by so many unions to strike together on the same day. 30 November is shaping up to be one of the biggest strikes in the history of the British labour movement, drawing in many workers who have never struck before.

The big local government and health union Unison will send out ballot papers from 11 October, to be returned by 3 November.

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Model motion for run-up to 30 November

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 10 October, 2011 - 10:12

Model motion for use in TU branches and Trades Councils in the run-up to the 30 November strike. Click here to download the motion as a PDF. If you've passed the motion, please let us know by emailing skillz_999@hotmail.com (you can also email if you want help advise on implementing the decisions, or help with anything else).

Comments

Submitted by martin on Wed, 19/10/2011 - 13:21

This branch believes:

1) To win the pensions battle, the labour movement will need to mobilise on a scale not seen for a generation.
2) It will take more than isolated, one-day protest strikes to beat the government. Sustained strike action as well as rolling and selective strikes will be needed.
3) For workers to feel confident in taking the sustained industrial action necessary, they must have ownership over their own struggle. A successful strike movement cannot be built without mass, active participation.

This branch resolves:

1) To work with other union branches and the Trades Council to set up a cross-union strike committee, open to delegates from all striking unions, to build for 30 November and action beyond.
2) To use such a strike committee to organise effective picketing on 30 November and a local strikers’ assembly, which will discuss strategy, in addition to any rallies/marches on the strike day itself.
3) To set up a local strike levy to supplement and add to any national hardship fund. 4) To demand that our union leaders immediately name a timetable of escalating action after 30 November into the New Year.
4) To demand that our union’s national negotiators keep the membership informed as to the content of all ongoing negotiations.

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 20/10/2011 - 11:11

This branch believes:

1) To win the pensions battle, the labour movement will need to mobilise on a scale not seen for a generation.
2) It will take more than isolated, one-day protest strikes to beat the government. Sustained strike action as well as rolling and selective strikes will be needed.
3) For workers to feel confident in taking the sustained industrial action necessary, they must have ownership over their own struggle. A successful strike movement cannot be built without mass, active participation.

This branch further believes:

1) The labour movement must articulate a political alternative to the Coalition, on pensions and other questions, based on taxation of the rich, public ownership, democratic control and ultimately a fight for a workers’ government – a government based on, accountable to and governing in the interests of the working class in the same way that the current government governs in the interests of the rich.

This branch resolves:

1) To work with other union branches and the Trades Council to set up a cross-union strike committee, open to delegates from all striking unions, to build for 30 November and action beyond.
2) To use such a strike committee to organise effective picketing on 30 November.
3) To demand that our union leaders immediately name a timetable of escalating action after 30 November into the New Year.
4) To demand that our union’s national negotiators keep the membership informed as to the content of all ongoing negotiations.

Submitted by AWL on Sun, 23/10/2011 - 23:59

Motion One - Defend Our Pensions – Vote “YES” for action!

This branch meeting;

- Condemns the Coalition government’s very serious assault on the local government and other public sector pension schemes, including dramatically increased employee contributions, a rising retirement age and abolition of ‘Fair Deal’ protection for outsourced workers.

- Welcomes the decision of UNISON’s national leadership to ballot more than 1.1 million members across the local government, NHS and civil service pension schemes following the Government’s refusal to make any meaningful concessions during seven months of fruitless talks

- Notes the encouraging prospect of united strike action involving more than 3 million workers covered by public sector pension schemes on 30 November.

This branch meeting resolves to:

- Campaign for the largest possible ‘yes’ vote in the ballot opening on 11 October and closing on 03 November through leafleting of workplaces, face-to-face conversations, lunch-time meetings and use of social media;

- Recruit a substantial number of new members on the basis of the pensions issue, encouraging members to become actively involved in the Union;

- Work closely with sister unions, particularly the NUT, GMB and UNITE, in building for industrial action on Wednesday 30 November, and to co-operate with Lambeth Trades Council;

- Empower the UNISON branch committee to act as a local strike committee in the first instance;

- Use the local press to advance our case to the wider public, encouraging all members to assist with this.

Motion Two – Developing the Pensions Campaign Further

This branch meeting believes:

- The pensions dispute is of fundamental importance in its own right and could well determine the fate of the Government’s more general offensive against the public sector workforce and social welfare provision.

- That to win this dispute the trade unions must be prepared for further action beyond a single day.

- Any negotiated settlement to the current dispute must ensure the following:

- No further increases in employee contribution rates

- No rise in the standard retirement age

- The restoration of the link between the Retail Price Index and the annual uprating of pension payments

- The safeguarding of current levels of pension payout, and restoration in full of ‘Fair Deal’ protection for workers on outsourced contracts.

- Any proposed settlement of the dispute should be subject to the widest possible democratic debate and that no service group within UNISON should withdraw from action until there is an acceptable framework agreement covering all of the public sector pension schemes.

This branch meeting therefore resolves;

- To endorse the Branch Committee’s decision to call for a special conference of UNISON’s local government service group to enable a discussion of tactics and strategy in the dispute and democratic scrutiny of any potential basis for settlement;

- To call upon all appropriate UNISON bodies to work to ensure that plans are made for future industrial action beyond 30 November, and that ideally these plans are publicised before 30 November. As a contribution to the debate in the trade union movement about the tactics for this dispute, we recommend that there should be further national all-out strike action before the end of 2011.

Submitted by AWL on Mon, 24/10/2011 - 14:59

This branch believes:

- To win the pensions battle, the labour movement will need to mobilise on a scale not seen for a generation;

- It will take more than isolated, one-day protest strikes to beat the government. Sustained strike action as well as rolling and selective strikes will be needed;

- For workers to feel confident in taking the sustained industrial action necessary, they must have ownership over their own struggle. A successful strike movement cannot be built without mass, active participation.

This branch further believes:

- The labour movement must articulate a political alternative to the Coalition, on pensions and other questions, based on taxation of the rich, public ownership, democratic control and ultimately a fight for a workers’ government – a government based on, accountable to and governing in the interests of the working class in the same way that the current government governs in the interests of the rich;

This branch resolves:

- To work with other union branches and the Trades Council to set up a cross-union strike committee, open to delegates from all striking unions, to build for 30 November and action beyond;

- To use such a strike committee to organise effective picketing on 30 November and a local strikers’ assembly, which will discuss strategy, in addition to any rallies/marches on the strike day itself;

- To demand that our union leaders immediately name a timetable of escalating action after 30 November into the New Year;

- To demand that our union’s national negotiators keep the membership informed as to the content of all ongoing negotiations;

- To support others taking action against government cuts, including the student demonstration against fees and cuts on 9 November, called by the National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts and supported by the National Union of Students.

Submitted by AWL on Sat, 12/11/2011 - 01:53

Yesterday (10th), the DWP Sheffield (frontline workers) branch of the PCS passed a motion similar to the above motion with amendments regarding the formation of a cross-union Sheffield strike committee and an ongoing local strategy.

This motion was passed unanimously In the branch, which is an achievement in itself - although the branch's political line has largely been shaped by the Independent Left (of which AWL comrades are a part) line, many of those on the current BEC are new, and some are relatively right wing.

The solid support for the motion seemed to be due to the general agreement that the union leadership had failed to build on the energy around the June 30th strike, and build it into a winning campaign. These thoughts were discussed by both existing AWL, IL, and independent members alike.

What is more interesting is that this particular branch meeting was attended by one Mark Serwotka as guest speaker, who, despite 40 minutes of explaining why the leadership thought selective action was 'weak', and that all action taken must now been on unity with other unions. Despite this, he persuaded not even the Left Unity members in the room, and the motion passed without opposition.

Rosie Huzzard

Submitted by AWL on Sat, 12/11/2011 - 01:55

N'ton NUT participated in supporting Northampton Trades Council to set up a 'strike committee' in the run-up to J30. The strike ctte has been reactivated recently to prepare for N30 - though we are also having to address the issue of the Regional TUC nominating union bureaucrats to run the campaign without having had any previous activity in the local group and without the agreement of the existing campaign.

Fortunately, the Trades Council convened strike ctte meeting this week was able to discuss and agree activity up to and including activity on N30. The nominated trade union person present accepted the status of the meeting and our right to decide activity.

The NUT meeting passed an amended version of the motion at our reps' meeting - the bit that got taken out was the workers government paragraph (I think about a quarter or third supported the worker govt paragraph and the rest supported its deletion) - however, there was a good political discussion about what sort of strategy was necessary to win, now and in the longer term, and that was more important than whether or not that particular paragraph was deleted.

Pat Markey

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Construction workers' fight: "unofficial or official, legal or illegal, we need to get work on the big sites stopped"

Submitted by AWL on 5 October, 2011 - 11:31

The latest in the series of weekly, early-morning demonstrations at prominent London construction sites saw hundreds of construction workers and their supporters take over Oxford Street, bringing traffic to a standstill.

The workers are fighting the attempt by seven of the industry's biggest contractors to leave the Joint Industry Board and impose their own national agreement, which would see some electricians take a 35% pay cut.

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Construction workers fight bosses' attacks

Submitted by AWL on 5 September, 2011 - 11:58

200 construction workers protested at the Stratford Westfield shopping centre on Wednesday 31 August as part of an ongoing campaign against the proposal by 8 major construction contractors to rip up the national agreement and leave the Joint Industry Board (JIB) in March 2012. All 8 companies are accused of blacklisting union activists; their plans are nothing short of an attempt to union-bust on a grand scale in the construction industry.

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Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 10 July, 2011 - 3:30

6,500 workers at Tory-controlled Shropshire Council face the sack as their employer becomes the latest local authority to use the threat of mass redundancies as a way to undermine collective bargaining and bully workers into accepting worse conditions.

Workers must agree to a 5.4% pay cut by 30 September if they want to keep their jobs, as the council seeks to make £76 million of cuts.

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Seize the loot - or be looted!

Submitted by Matthew on 29 June, 2011 - 12:09

Ed Miliband says the unions should not strike on 30 June because they risk alienating public opinion. Thousands of teachers, civil servants and lecturers know he is wrong. Striking on 30 June — and organising for further strikes— is right and necessary.

Striking is the most effective way to stop the government from destroying public sector pensions, reducing health and social services to a “death's door only” minimum and condemning millions to a “choice” between penury or becoming cheap labour for multi-millionaires.

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New lessons in online campaigning

Submitted by Matthew on 29 June, 2011 - 11:41

What makes some online campaigns popular, while others are not? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because LabourStart is today running a large number of campaigns at the same time.

Some are wildly successful (in terms of the number of messages sent). Others, less so. A campaign we’re currently running in support of Canadian postal workers has become the largest one we ever ran. After only four days online, it already had over 10,000 supporters.

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