Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/614/8941
Unison general secretary election: Nominate Roger Bannister
The outcome of a BBC survey shows that at least 25,000 council jobs are at risk. A spokesperson from the London School of Economics has declared that: "Nothing like this has happened for a generation". They added that council job losses could soar to 100,000.
Unison members will be asking which candidates in the current general secretary election have a clear strategy to fight these massive cuts.
Socialist Party member Roger Bannister, who is seeking nominations to stand, says that local government members should be mobilised now, with a clear message to local authorities and all the main political parties that their union intends to resist these cuts.
He believes that it is crucial to move now to send a message out that whoever wins the general election will face nothing but opposition to these draconian cuts to jobs and services.
Cut to the bone
There is a lot of talk about maintaining 'frontline' services and reducing the 'back office'. But with years of cuts (3% savings year on year) back-room services have already been reduced to the bone and frontline services cannot function without workers in the back.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis responded to these cuts by saying that: "big job losses could cause social disharmony." And that: "We will not allow our members to pay the price" (of bailing out the banks). But there is no clear plan as to what he is going to do about these attacks.
The current leadership of Unison gave no effective opposition to the employers when 'single status' (which was supposed to increase the pay of many women) led to women workers suffering pay cuts. Unison are still bogged down in legal battles over this. Socialist Party members warned of the pitfalls of single status before it was implemented.
The one-day strike over pensions by local government workers in 2006 was the biggest strike since 1926. If Unison had taken that strike action further, Unison members would not be paying more for their pensions now. Unison only put up half a fight and now we see more attacks on public sector pensions.
Unison members who want a democratic fighting union should back the nomination of Roger Bannister for general secretary at their union branch meetings. He believes Unison should not fund the Labour Party which is committed to implementing massive public sector cuts.
In The Socialist 3 March 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party feature