30 June and after: rank-and-file must control

Submitted by Matthew on 15 June, 2011 - 11:03

Members of the teachers’ union NUT voted 92% for discontinuous strikes to save pension provision, on a 40% turnout. Members of ATL, another teachers’ union, voted 83% in favour on a turnout of 35%. On 15 June the civil service union PCS declares the outcome of its voting.

The three unions, plus, in further education colleges and newer universities, the lecturers’ union, UCU, which has already balloted, will start by striking together on 30 June.

On 22 June the local government and health union Unison, at its conference, is likely to vote to ballot, too, paving the way for a bigger joint strike in the autumn. Leaders of the general unions Unite and GMB have said that their members in the public sector will join action in the autumn.

In the next two weeks, trade unionists across the country are getting ready for 30 June. Preparations in Nottinghamshire are different from in most parts of the country.

The trades council, the anti-cuts committee, and a joint committee of the striking unions are planning to use the day for strikers to formulate and debate proposals for the way forward.

On the 30th, a march through Nottingham will finish not with a rally where workers hear union leaders and then go home, but with a mass meeting at the city’s Albert Hall. The capacity is almost a thousand, and the organisers are confident of filling it. The trades council and the joint strike committee have agreed a draft motion on action after 30 June, and the meeting will be open to other motions and amendments.

The Government’s pension plans mean higher contributions (three per cent more off the average worker’s pay), later retirement dates, and lower pensions, across the board in the public sector. Those changes are linked to cuts in state pension provision, and will tend to ratchet down pension provision in the private sector, too.

The movement against those plans has the potential also to push back the cuts in services, jobs, and pension provision. With the Government’s drive already in full swing to cut benefits for the disabled, and its announcement in mid-June of its plans for “workfare” — in short: simultaneously cutting jobs and trying to coerce the unemployed into taking non-existent or very poor jobs or else lose benefit — it becomes urgent that the unions defend welfare benefits too.

To make reality of the movement’s potential, it has to come under the control of the rank and file. Workers have to be more than a stage army paraded from time to time by the union leaders to strengthen their hand in negotiations. The rank and file must be able to discuss the tactics, the demands, and the political perspective of the movement.

Action has to extend beyond important, but widely-spaced, one-day strikes. The Southampton council workers now in dispute over cuts have shown how. Instead of a series of one-day protests, they have organised indefinite rolling selective action: a different section of workers out each week, supported with strike pay, and chosen to maximise the economic impact on the employer.

Teachers could follow the example of teachers in Victoria, Australia, in their successful dispute in 2008. They did not proceed by organising a one-day protest, then waiting for the union leaders to organise another, and so on. They organised a rolling programme of regional strikes, each one linked to big demonstrations at the offices of local MPs.

That Nottingham’s unions are organising a meeting where workers can debate the way forward is in part because of the influence of Workers’ Liberty members in the local labour movement. Others on the left, notably the SWP, have opposed the plan in favour of a “Day of Rage” with no chance for discussion. Their argument is that a meeting will be boring “old left” stuff, that striking workers won’t want or even won’t be able to discuss politics and strategy, and that detail is best left to the established officials and activists.

The SWP is holding meetings across the country in the run-up to 30 June under the banner “Unite the Resistance”. It is positive that they have invited speakers from the Coalition of Resistance and the Socialist Party’s National Shop Stewards Network initiative. On the record, however, they will be averse to sober debate.

Even if you can’t get your local movement to organise like Nottingham for 30 June, discuss the issues and the motion in your union branch, trades council and anti-cuts committee.

Notts Trades Council/Joint Strike Committee motion for 30 June

We the assembled union members of PCS, NUT, ATL and UCU congratulate the union executives for balloting for industrial action over pensions. Today must be seen as only the beginning of an ongoing campaign of action.

We urge our union leaderships to announce plans to escalate the industrial action over pensions. It is clear from recent announcements by the government that they are not yet close to withdrawing their pension proposals. Evidence for local campaigning across the country shows that members understand the issues involved in the pensions disputes and are prepared to take extensive industrial action to defeat the government's pensions proposals.

We therefore call on our respective National Executive Committees in consultation with local union organisations to draw up plans for a variety of further actions under the current ballots beginning with:

• At least one further national strike day before the end July 2011.

• A timetable for further strikes in the Autumn, both nationally and regionally based.

We further call on our National Executives to start urgent talks with other unions facing job cuts and attacks on pay, pensions and conditions but who have so far not balloted for action. In such talks the Unions should make the case for our sister unions balloting for strike action against these attacks as a matter of urgency.

Finally, we believe it is vital that rank and file union members are involved in this dispute and we call on the unions taking action today to establish strike committees both within and between unions.

• Contact Notts Trades Council william.conway@ntlworld.com

Comments

Submitted by martin on Wed, 15/06/2011 - 18:57

On 15 June PCS announced that 61.1% of members voted in favour of strike action and 83.6% in favour of action short of strike, on a turnout of 32.4%.

Martin Thomas

Submitted by martin on Wed, 15/06/2011 - 19:01

The PCS website has a list of rallies and meetings planned for 30 June. They promise to keep it updated. This is the list as of 15 June.

Bradford: 10am rally at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground, BD8 7DY.

Cambridge: noon, rally at Parker’s Piece, Parkside, CB1 1JE.

Carlisle: 12.20pm rally by Old Town Hall, CA3 8JH, with music and food.

Chelmsford: 11am, rally at High Street, CM1 1BE.

Colchester: 12.30pm, rally outside Colchester town hall, High Street, CO1 1PJ. Organised by Colchester and Clacton trades union councils.

Exeter: 11am rally at the Corn Exchange, George Street, EX1 1BU. Speakers include: Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC); and Hector Wesley (PCS). March to Belmont Park for a Festival for the Alternative at 12.30pm with music from Billy Bragg, a bouncy castle and children’s entertainment, stalls and food and drink available.

Glasgow: noon rally in George Square, Glasgow, G2 1DU. Speakers include: Janice Godrich, PCS president; Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish TUC; Mary Senior, University and College Union (UCU) Scottish secretary; Mike Kirby, Unison Scottish secretary; and Pat Rafferty, Unite regional secretary.

Gloucester: 10.30am, rally at the bandstand in Gloucester Park, Park Road, GL1 1LH.

Halifax: 10am to noon, indoor rally at Arden Road Social Club, HX1 3AG.

Liverpool: assemble from 11.30am, William Brown Street, L1 1JJ. March to The Black-E arts centre, Great George Street, L1 5EW, for a rally at 12.30pm. Speakers include: Marie Daley, UCU national executive (NEC); Julie Lyon-Taylor, National Union of Teachers (NUT) NEC; and Alice Robinson, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), national senior vice president.

Luton: noon assemble at Market Hill, LU1 2YN, walk to Town Hall, George Street, LU1 2BQ, for speakers at 12.30pm. In the afternoon there’s a picnic in Wardown Park, Old Bedford Road, LU2 7HA.

Manchester: assemble from 11am, All Saints, Oxford Road, M1 7DU. March to Castlefield Arena, Liverpool Road, M3 4JN for a rally at noon. Speakers include: Helen Andrews, NUT NEC; Mark Baker, ATL NEC; and Dominique Lauterburg, UCU NEC.

Middlesbrough: 4.30pm, rally by the bottle sculpture, Russell Street, TS1 2AE.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Meet at noon at Life Centre, Times Square, NE1 4EP. March to the monument, Grey Street, NE1 7AL, for a rally at 1pm. Speakers from striking unions plus Kevin Rowan, secretary Northern TUC.

Preston: noon, rally at The Flag Market, PR1 2JA. Speakers include: Kathy Eager, ATL NEC; Simon Jones, NUT NEC; and John Murphy, UCU NEC.

Taunton: 11am, rally at Taunton rugby club, Hyde Lane, TA2 8BU.

Martin Thomas

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 15/06/2011 - 21:54

Motion for escalating the pensions action

Rotherham NUT committee calls on the National Executive, as a matter of urgency, to announce plans to escalate the industrial action over pensions after the 30th of June strike.

It is clear from recent announcements by the government that they are not yet close to withdrawing their pension proposals. Evidence from local campaigning across the country shows that the members understand the issues involved in the pensions dispute and are prepared to take extensive industrial action to defeat the government's pensions proposals.

Members are also voicing their concerns that one day of strike action, like in 2008, is not good enough.

We therefore call on the National Executive to draw up plans, in consultation with local associations and division, for a variety of further actions under the current ballot beginning with:

a) On 30th June announcing a further date for strike action in the Autumn term
b) A timetable for further strikes in the Autumn Term, both nationally and regionally based, with consideration given to using rolling action and other forms of action short of strike action.

We congratulate the executive for making links with other unions balloting for industrial action over pensions and believe the success of those links will be seen on June 30th 2011. We urge the National Executive to liaise urgently with the PCS, CWU, UCU and ATL in planning further industrial action and to agree dates for further joint strike action to be announced on June 30th 2011, so that members know on that day what the next stage of the campaign will look like.

We further call on the National Executive to start urgent talks with those Public Sector unions which, so far, have not begun to ballot over pensions but whose members will lose out significantly as a result of the government proposals. In such talks the Union should make the case for our sister public sector unions balloting over pensions as a matter of urgency.

Finally, we support the collaboration between local public sector unions so far. We think this co-ordination should continue after the 30th of June and should form the basis of a local strike committee that is involved in organising pickets, demonstrations and local publicity.

***
The Committee also voted to hold a post-30 June mass members' meeting to discuss escalation.

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 16/06/2011 - 12:05

Motion for escalating strike/industrial action after 30th June

The members of the Sheffield Anti Cuts Alliance congratulates the union executives for balloting for industrial action over pensions, pay, and job cuts. Today must be seen as only the beginning of an on-going campaign of action.

We urge the union leaderships to announce plans to escalate the industrial action over pensions, pay, and job cuts. It is clear from recent announcements by the government that they are not yet close to withdrawing their proposals. Evidence for local campaigning across the country shows that members understand the issues involved in the disputes and are prepared to take extensive industrial action to defeat the government’s proposals.

We therefore call on the National Executive Committees of all public sector and concerned unions in consultation with local union organisations to draw up plans for a variety of further actions under the current ballots beginning with:-

a) At least one further national strike day before the end July 2011.

b) A timetable for further strikes throughout the year, both nationally and regionally based.

c) Any other action in defence of the above which is particularly damaging to the employer(s), e.g. action short of a strike, work to rule, overtime bans, selective and targeted strike action in particularly hard hitting sections of the workforce etc.

We further call on union National Executives to start urgent talks with other unions facing job cuts and attacks on pay, pensions and conditions but who have so far not balloted for action. In such talks the Unions should make the case for these sister unions balloting for strike action against these attacks as a matter of urgency.

Finally, we believe it is vital that rank and file union members are involved in this dispute and we call on the unions taking action on the 30th June to establish strike committees both within and between unions.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.