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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 October 2017

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

Barts strikers, 15 July 2017, photo Paul Mattsson

Barts strikers, 15 July 2017, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

Unison unelected officials, not even employed by Barts Health Trust or Serco, have put out a leaflet that attacks Unite the Union and the Socialist Party following the deal that concluded the recent Barts dispute.

After Unite members' meetings on all sites and a democratic ballot, cleaners, porters and catering staff voted to accept the offer made by Serco.

It isn't what workers were originally demanding, but the stewards and workers decided to bank it as a step forward, and prepare for pay talks starting this month on next year's pay.

Make no mistake, it is strike action and bold campaigning that brought Serco to the table.

24-days of strike action brought the brightest of pickets to Whipps Cross, the Royal London, Mile End and St Barts.

Unison should have balloted their members to come out on strike as well in a united campaign, which is what Unite members wanted. Then, more might have been won. Instead, they tried to undermine the dispute while it was going on.

And now, unbelievably, they are asking Unison members to vote no to the offer! Workers must not let Unison's right-wing leadership snatch away what you have won

This underlines why so many porters and cleaners moved over to Unite in the first place. The Socialist Workers Party has once again stated its opposition to this move, on the basis that the workforce was split. But Unite represents the vast majority of Barts Serco employees. Obviously the dispute would have been better if Unison had come out on strike. But if workers had stayed in Unison there would have been no fight at all!

Unison is a big union with over a million members, and huge potential power. It is vital to campaign to change it into a democratic, fighting union. Socialist Party members in Unison have taken a lead in that battle for years and still do.

But it is also important that individual workforces are able to organise and defend themselves. They need to be able to take action when necessary.

And of course, it is vital that workers struggle to maintain democratic control of their own disputes and for a fighting leadership, no matter what union they are in.

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Related links:

Barts:

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: Save our NHS - the lessons of the Barts strike

triangleNHS we're ready to fight

triangleSustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

triangleSerco - not fit for purpose

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

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triangleThreat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

triangleUnison national women's conference

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

triangleLeeds college pay protests

Strike:

triangleLecturers strike around country in defence of pensions

triangleGerman engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

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triangleBernie's book shows need for workers' party

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triangleSadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

London:

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: 120 years since the death of Eleanor Marx

Whipps Cross:

triangleDeal concludes Barts health strike - "We have raised our heads high"

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleTUSC: SWP suspends participation in England/Wales

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