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Everybody Out?

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Printed Date: December 27 2014 at 09:54
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Topic: Everybody Out?
Posted By: lazland
Subject: Everybody Out?
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 14:43
Okay. Up until three years ago, I was a very active representative of the civil service union in the UK, PCS. Personal issues and political issues made me stand back a bit.

In the union, for many years, I fought against the Trotskyist takeover of my union. By nature, I am a libertarian, and, politically, I resent very much the situation whereby a small, but dedicated, cabal, of politically motivated activists have reduced a once great voice in industrial relations to a voicebox for fringe parties and movements, to the extent where a mere 10% of members bother to vote now in annual elections.

There is the history, albeit simplistic and abbreviated. Now to the dilemma.

For years now, this cabal has pursued an industrial action policy mainly centred around pointless one day strikes and political extremism. We have had yet another ballot for strike action, and on a turnout of 28%, 61% of members supported strike action. In other words, only 17% of members supported a further period of strikes, and, of those, I can say absolutely that 10% represented the activist base of the union. 


In my office, it is likely that support for the forthcoming strike on Budget Day (a gimmick, really. I am a taxman) will amount to about four souls out of about 100.

For the first time in my life, I am thinking about not supporting the action. I lost more money last year striking than the government took off me in increased pension contributions. 

So, I have a dilemma. The question to prog archive members is a simple one. Solidarity, or "scabbing"?


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In Lazland, life is transient. Prog is permanent.



Replies:
Posted By: Blacksword
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 15:36
A tough decision, and I don't envy you for having to make it. You have to follow your heart on this one, Lazland. The advice of others may not help you make the right decision, and indeed it may be one of those cases where neither decision is necessarily right. Very tough. I don't know what else to say, but good luck, and I hope whatever decision you do make doesn't impact negatively on you. Sorry. I know that's not much help.

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Ultimately bored by endless ecstasy!


Posted By: CPicard
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 15:41
An English problem. I can't answer, I'm living in the Euro Zone.


Posted By: horza
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 15:45
Why should you pay for the apathy within the workforce?

Will the union reimburse you?

You have done enough mate - provide for your family. I would.


Posted By: Gerinski
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 20:34
That's a luxury problem Laz Wink
What's the reason for wanting to strike? you should not care about numbers, whether 10% or 50% or whatever support the strike or not, you just need to think of the motivation, if you believe that it is worth striking for, go strike, if you think it's not really fair then do not strike.
On a side note, I support the right to strike but I have never followed a strike in my life.


Posted By: Gerinski
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 20:40
BTW, as a Spanish myself and you being British, what's the talking there about the Iberia / British Airways conflict?
As you may know Iberia employees are striking because they believe that British Airways is softly killing Iberia after having taken it over. I know not enough myself to forge an opinion on the subject, multinational corporations are always a tricky subject, regardless where they are from.



Posted By: Barbu
Date Posted: March 06 2013 at 22:27
Looking in shades of green through shades of blue...

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Excuse-moi d'casser ton fun mais j'me cherche une rime pour automne


Posted By: Jim Garten
Date Posted: March 07 2013 at 07:29
Lazland - if you're in PCS you'll recall the furore when 50% of the Land Registries were closed back in June 2011. My wife had at the time been working in the Stevenage office for just on 10 years & though PCS were doing their level best to prevent the government capping previously agreed redundancy payments, strike actions were unpopular, despite the high percentage of PCS membership - although the Day Of Action one day strikes usually only resulted in a few on the picket line & the rest working as usual, the union still worked bloody hard for the membership & were successful re the redundancy terms in the High Court.

In answer to your question, I think you can still show union solidarity whilst 'scabbing' (hateful term); it's my opinion there remains a certain element within all trade unions who seem to yearn for the late 1970s when strike action was a regular norm, not the exception to be used in extremes. 99% of the time, there is an alternative & it should never be used to ride roughshod over the negotiation table.

Originally posted by lazland lazland wrote:

In the union, for many years, I fought against the Trotskyist takeover of my union. By nature, I am a libertarian, and, politically, I resent very much the situation whereby a small, but dedicated, cabal, of politically motivated activists have reduced a once great voice in industrial relations to a voicebox for fringe parties and movements, to the extent where a mere 10% of members bother to vote now in annual elections


PCS?



Know a chap called Michael Kavanagh, by any chance?

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Jon Lord 1941 - 2012


Posted By: lazland
Date Posted: March 07 2013 at 15:42
Originally posted by Jim Garten Jim Garten wrote:

Lazland - if you're in PCS you'll recall the furore when 50% of the Land Registries were closed back in June 2011. My wife had at the time been working in the Stevenage office for just on 10 years & though PCS were doing their level best to prevent the government capping previously agreed redundancy payments, strike actions were unpopular, despite the high percentage of PCS membership - although the Day Of Action one day strikes usually only resulted in a few on the picket line & the rest working as usual, the union still worked bloody hard for the membership & were successful re the redundancy terms in the High Court.

In answer to your question, I think you can still show union solidarity whilst 'scabbing' (hateful term); it's my opinion there remains a certain element within all trade unions who seem to yearn for the late 1970s when strike action was a regular norm, not the exception to be used in extremes. 99% of the time, there is an alternative & it should never be used to ride roughshod over the negotiation table.

Originally posted by lazland lazland wrote:

In the union, for many years, I fought against the Trotskyist takeover of my union. By nature, I am a libertarian, and, politically, I resent very much the situation whereby a small, but dedicated, cabal, of politically motivated activists have reduced a once great voice in industrial relations to a voicebox for fringe parties and movements, to the extent where a mere 10% of members bother to vote now in annual elections


PCS?



Know a chap called Michael Kavanagh, by any chance?

Hi Jim. Thanks for this. 

I was heavily involved in the campaign to save local tax offices, DWP offices, and Land Registry offices when I was active in PCS, so yes, I am aware of the issues you refer to. Our local campaigns were fast and furious, and generally quite effective. We did not win every battle, of course, but we did save some local offices, and negotiated, in HMRC, new centres of excellence which have, and will continue, to provide quality jobs for years to come. A bloodbath, yes, but we did retrieve some good out of it. How? By negotiation, political campaigning, public backing, not by strikes. The support I had from the national union was almost pitiful.

PCS has become nothing more than a voice for so called extreme political activists. They think they are radical, whereas they are merely trying their best to win the wars we lost in the 1980's. we might not like the fact we lost, but the world has moved on. Members cannot see the point of losing even more money in pointless action. They want action that delivers. One day strikes never have, and never will.

I agree with you, BTW, that scabbing is a hateful term. It is, though, a commonly recognised one.

As for Martin, I am aware of him, and have heard him at various meetings, but cannot claim to know him very well. I am sure he would say something similar about myself.

This is, I know, a short post. I could go on for much longer, and am more than happy to do so from a standpoint of more than 28 years of civil service TU activism if you wish, either on the forum or by PM?

Cheers

Steve


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In Lazland, life is transient. Prog is permanent.


Posted By: lazland
Date Posted: March 07 2013 at 15:45
Originally posted by Gerinski Gerinski wrote:

BTW, as a Spanish myself and you being British, what's the talking there about the Iberia / British Airways conflict?
As you may know Iberia employees are striking because they believe that British Airways is softly killing Iberia after having taken it over. I know not enough myself to forge an opinion on the subject, multinational corporations are always a tricky subject, regardless where they are from.


Hey Gerard. This is one of those rare instances of a group of workers striking against a British takeover. Here, it is usually the other way around.

However, it is a common thing here that foreign companies taking over entities will always seek to cut costs. Greedy multinational capitalism. It sucks.


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In Lazland, life is transient. Prog is permanent.


Posted By: Jim Garten
Date Posted: March 11 2013 at 07:09
Originally posted by lazland lazland wrote:

PCS has become nothing more than a voice for so called extreme political activists... they are merely trying their best to win the wars we lost in the 1980's. we might not like the fact we lost, but the world has moved on. Members cannot see the point of losing even more money in pointless action. They want action that delivers. One day strikes never have, and never will.


Actually, it's for this reason, I thought you may know of, or be referring to Michael Kavanagh...

Originally posted by lazland lazland wrote:

As for Martin Michael, I am aware of him, and have heard him at various meetings, but cannot claim to know him very well. I am sure he would say something similar about myself


Truth be told, he's actually a very good friend of mine, but we discovered many years ago, that for that to remain the case, there is one subject we do not discuss (especially after a few beers ), and that's politics/trade unionism/activism

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Jon Lord 1941 - 2012



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