Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 October 2008

Unison right-wing's insecurity begins to show

The growing insecurity of Unison's ruling right wing clique became visible at the national executive council (NEC) meeting on 8 October.

The meeting began with an announcement by the president that the names of all people who spoke would be recorded to give preference to people who had not yet contributed.

This clear attempt to limit the contributions of the left blew up in her face when, as usual, with a few notable exceptions, no right wingers volunteered to speak anyway. Discussion on major issues affecting members, such as equal pay, pensions and pay claim strategy was dominated by the left, with Socialist Party members Glenn Kelly and Roger Bannister playing a full part.

The president also made it clear that she did not want a discussion on the membership report. This was presumably because of the glaring contrast between impressive growth in local government in August, reflecting new recruits as a result of strike action over pay in July, and the NHS, where Unison did a deal with the non-TUC Royal College of Nurses to force a below-inflation pay deal through. This would have further exposed the inherent weakness of the right wing's strategy.

General secretary Dave Prentis announced a complete U-turn in his position on public-sector pay. A few months ago he was playing down the prospect of united action across public-sector unions, emphasising the inter-union divisions, different negotiating bodies, settlement timetables etc.

Faced with a collapse of this strategy, with Unison now being forced to try to reopen the NHS deal as a result of pressure from low-paid NHS members in the face of mounting inflation, and the abandonment of strike action in favour of arbitration in local government, Prentis has started promoting the 'Swedish' model, where the public-sector unions negotiate jointly with the government on the size of the settlement, then individually with employer bodies over its distribution.

A volte face of this magnitude provides yet another example of right-wing political bankruptcy, desperation and uncertainty.

In a vain attempt to whip up enthusiasm, and justify Unison's Labour Party affiliation, the Chair of the Labour Link delivered a rambling discourse on Unison's intervention at the recent Labour Party conference. Unfortunately for him, accounts of speeches, fringe meetings and hob-nobbing with ministers ring hollow against the background of cuts in real earnings, reduction of public services and growth of privatisation, which is New Labour's policy for the public services.

It is this contrast between right-wing strategy and tactics and the realities of life for ordinary Unison members that is at the heart of the right wing's dilemma.

Whilst they may gloat at their 'victories' over the left in respect of issues like the single status agreement, pay and pensions, it is beginning to dawn on them that these moves create a mood of disappointment and dissatisfaction amongst a growing number of members. This provides the basis for a left challenge to the right wing in the NEC elections next year.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 October 2008:

Sack the bankers not the workers

"Give us what the bankers got"

News in brief

Socialist Party editorial

Government bailouts: major measures to prop up capitalism

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

Recession in Britain: Anger and bitterness towards the financiers

Repossessions grow as banking crisis hits

Socialism 2008

Capitalism in crisis: Why you should come to Socialism 2008

Socialist Party campaigns

Political protest in Liverpool will not be silenced!

Mandelson - New minister for the rich

Planning Bill: Local views sidelined for big business

Socialist Party women

Defend and extend abortion rights


Opposition grows to Kirklees schools plans

Bangor: Organising to fight university tuition fees

Nottingham Trent University attempts to de-recognise the lecturers' union

Staff and students unite over pensions

International socialist news and analysis

Austria: Far right makes big gains - left vote squeezed

Afghanistan - war without end?

Socialist Party review

75th anniversary of Walter Greenwood's Love on the Dole

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

London bus workers strike for a living wage

Local government Scotland: Reject the pay offer!

Unity in Unite unravelling

Unison right-wing insecurity begins to show

Successful outcome for Suzanne Muna

Standing for president of Usdaw


Home   |   The Socialist 15 October 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleBrighton Uni lecturers strike against job cuts

triangleLeeds college workers protest poor pay rises

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleThe fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action


triangleRetail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleDemonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

triangleArriva bus strikers stand firm


triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts


triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleSave our NHS

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers


Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents



Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell



Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos



Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts



Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated



Bradford campaign to save children's services launched


South London

South London health bosses' cover-up



Unite day of action against blacklisting



Brighton victory



Newham anti-academies strikes


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting



Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout



Unite protest against blacklisting



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice