Council workers in Southampton have been engaged in "smart" striking since 23 May this year.And just what is ‘smart striking’ when it’s at home?
It has been argued to be a great innovation in strike tactics because it does not see every union member having to lose a day's pay every time there is a strike day.Ah. And is it effective? Well, if it weren’t, would they be thinking of adopting it further?
Public sector unions are now talking about replicating this model of smart striking in their campaign of industrial action from 30 November over pension reform. This will involve selective or targeted strikes after the initial 30 November mass strike of all union members.And it seems the answer is….no.
But the problem is the smart strike is not the silver bullet its advocates make it out to be. The current Southampton strike by Unison and Unite members shows this.In other words, it’s not giving them the victory they desire. Not by a long chalk.
Any strike that has been going on for 20 weeks is heroic…SNORK!
… but it is not one that has generated the necessary leverage against the employer to force it into a U-turn.Oh, dear, how sad, too bad…
In the case of Southampton, the 4.5% pay cut, a three-year pay freeze on cost-of-living increments, and a two-year freeze on annual increments has already been implemented from 11 July when 97% of workers accepted the terms rather than face redundancy.We aren’t told what happened to the 3%.
The problem union leaders feel is that members are not willing to take many days action, much less go out on indefinite strike, because of the consequent sacrifice to their incomes. No union in Britain has offered to pay strike-pay at a rate that has changed its members' thinking on this.Gosh, I wonder where all that money taken off union members in subscriptions has gone…
The prospect over pensions is the unions fight the "good fight" but with the wrong tactics, leading to a costly stalemate or worse.The ‘good fight’? Surely some mistake!
Especially when referring to unsustainable pensions for the public sector..
The 1989 local government strike by Nalgo – one of the unions that went on to make up Unison – was a model strike. Seeking a higher pay rise, the union's members went on strike for one day in the first week, two days the next, and three days the following week. They were intent on going up to five days a week and then continuing on that basis. The ratcheting up of pressure meant the employers gave in after the third week.You are still faced with the fact that your members are reluctant to lose one day, two days, three days money, though, aren’t you?
The new tactic needed is to create powerful alliances of the providers and users of public services. This would give unions the political clout to bat back the government.Yes, well, as commenter WheatFromChaff put it:
“Unite: we want more money for our members, including pay rises, and cost of living increments and annual increments.So, good luck with that, Gregor…
Residents: good idea, who will be paying for it?
Unite; you will.