Friday, 4 November 2011

UNISON members vote Yes to action - Higher Ed unanimously support #N30

UNISON News | The public service union | UNISON members vote Yes to action

We're on the last stretch of the road to nationally coordinated strike action. Finally the results came in on Thursday last week, after a long campaign for a yes vote (though one more week might have helped?).

The Higher Ed service Group then ratified the decision to go ahead with November 30th, (unanimously voting in favour), following the overwhelming yes vote.

Firstly, a common query: there won't be a breakdown for our sector - all of LGPS members have one aggregated result. We do not have a breakdown of the results for the HE Service group, nor for individual branches.

Secondly we should not be defensive about the turn-out: nearly thirty percent isn't bad at all. How many MEPs are elected on higher percentage? And if the government want trade unions to deliver an increased turnout to make our ballots legitimate, they should allow us to have workplace ballots (after all we're based in the workplace). And why can't we use secure on-line voting systems like professional associations do . Student unions often have on-line voting too. ... but not trade unions, oh no.

And due to the Tory anti-union laws we have to strike with in 28days of a ballot result in order to keep our ballot 'live'. So it's definitely going ahead on 30th Nov.

As Dave Prentis promised: 'there will be no deals behind closed doors', and members will be consulted on any 'final offer (in what format we are yet to decide).

We emphasised the need to defend pensions for everyone - not just public sector workers, and certainly not just those public sector works close to retirement age. So as far as we're concerned, the strike is on because we're defending decent pensions for all. To that end, we're agreed on the need to engage with young workers and students and we're all for building stronger alliances with the NUS. As I said already, 'today's students are tomorrow's pensioners'...

I think we should congratulate ourselves on an excellent 'Yes campaign'. The materials produced were excellent, the support and training for Pensions Champions has been clear and concise, making complex arguments simple. Activists up and down the country have been slogging their guts out talking to members, and altogether we delivered a convincing result.

Now the task is to keep the momentum up whilst the wind is in our sails.

We won the yes vote in our union, now we need to win over public opinion. The media bias against unions means they will instinctively oppose any strike action, so we need to get letters into local papers in favour, vote in on-line polls etc.. UNISON mobilised well for the Guardian and the Telegraph polls taken last week - we need to keep this up over the next few weeks.

Most of all we need to be recruiting and organising new members and activists. Public sector workers are joining UNISON at a speed not seen an many years, due to our high-profile and principled stand in defence of decent pensions for all.

So hopefully I'll see many of you on the demo on 9th November: whilst we're supporting the struggle for free education, we will also be recruiting more advocates for our strike action on 30th.

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