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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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