UNISON members in Scotland will soon be balloted for industrial
action over their 2008 pay claim. Ballot papers will be sent out at the
beginning of July with votes due back by 31st July.
This is an extremely tight time scale and will present a
challenge to activists.
The decision to call a vote on industrial action was taken
at a delegate conference in Glasgow on 29th May following a period of informal
Some 20% of members took part in the consultation by
attending meetings or by voting through e-mail or ballot. Those that took part
were overwhelmingly for strike action.
The action proposed by the Scottish Local Government
Committee and supported by the Conference mirrors that taken in 2000, all out
action of single days backed up by selective action. This is odd, given that
the basis of the consultation was that it had to be laid on the line to members
that significant strike action would be needed to move the employers. This would
mean more than single days and selective action. In the meetings members were
clear about this and told stewards they were up for a fight.
The economic situation is pushing trade union members into
action. The fantasy figures for inflation represented by the Consumer Price Index
are dismissed by members. Even the Retail Price Index does not ring true. The
real inflation rate members see at the petrol pump and in the supermarket is
probably closer to 8%.
Against this background the employers’ final offer of 2.5%
for the next 3 years is insulting. Even the UNISON – Unite – GMB claim now
looks insipid at 5% or £1,000. Today’s press argues that workers need a rise of
£1,500 just to mark time!
UNISON members have been battered by Single
Status. They have either had the grade for their job reduced or they have
suffered cuts in terms and conditions. Many feel that the Union did little to
protect them, be that true or not, it may be that this will feed into the