From Socialist Voice, February 2010

Build the necessary workers’ unity

As the campaign by public-sector unions gathers momentum, it is clear that if they are to succeed they need to take their action to a new level. They need also to win the support of workers throughout the private sector in order to force this Government, the employers’ organisations and the establishment media to retreat. They need to build solidarity among all workers, both public and private.
     Because of the unions’ vacillation throughout 2009, workers feel reluctant to move forward, as they continuously hear mixed messages coming from leading elements with the ICTU.
     Some trade union representatives have not realised that the jig is up in relation to “social partnership.” The Government and employers no longer want or need it. They are of the belief that they have won, and they are on the offensive right across the board, extracting concessions in the form of wage cuts and worsening terms and conditions for their workers.
     What is needed now is a more vigorous campaigning by trade unions in defence of their members, campaigns and demands that bring unity between public and private-sector workers. In this climate, when workers need leadership, the grovelling by some union leaders in the face of Government attacks is pathetic, to say the least. Crawling back into “social partnership” now would be the last refuge of scoundrels.

ICTU action plan

Some of the actions to be adopted by members of public-sector unions, adopted as phase 1 by the Public Services Committee of the ICTU, are:
     • Where there is an identifiable chain of command for taking instruction, this chain of command will be strictly adhered to.
     • Mobile communications (mobile phones) will be used only where there is union agreement and will not be used as a replacement for in-line supervision.
     • No engagement to take place on change agendas, at any level.
     • Work-related materials will not be carried in members’ private cars.
     • Good will and unpaid extracurricular activities within the employment will cease.
     • Members will not carry out the duties of a higher grade without the proper remuneration.
     • Members will not co-operate in work associated with vacant posts or unfilled promotional outlets.
     • Members will resist redeployments not previously agreed with the union.
     • Strict observance with health and safety rules will apply.
     • Members will evaluate their involvement in work-place partnership committees and will continue in the partnership process only on the basis of benefits to their continued involvement.
     Phase 2 of the plan is to be introduced after the completion of phase 1 and may take the form of any of the following actions:
     • Intermittent selective strikes.
     • Work to rule or non-cooperation campaign.
     • Identifying specific areas in response to the threat of compulsive redundancies and disciplinary action for non-cooperation.
     • Widespread strikes.

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