WHY NOT STRIKE NOW (emphasis on NOW)?
In my last post I expressed my personal view that calling for strike action was not the right call just yet. This is not an A4ES official position, just my personal view. My BFF Mark Irvine seems to have a different view.
Several folk have asked me to explain why I take that view. I hesitated as these are decisions for the claimant group and are a union issue. But I’ve been asked and it would be a bit cowardly to duck the question so here goes.
The simple answer is I don’t think it would speed up getting a settlement.
What would be your demands? If it was commit to replacing WPBR, I think there are other routes to that end, that can and are being pursued. If they fail then look at a strike.
If it’s - gives us what we are due? That begs Q - what are you due. Who is yr comparator? The tribunals have not yet agreed this. Which elements of pay? Council says only core pay. We say lots of elements.
It is difficult to explain how fiendishly complicated these issues are. There could be as many as 20 groups of issues still to be determined by a tribunal and there are at least 400 different claimant jobs and the answers could be different for each job. Not everyone works in home care or even in Cordia.
I know I’m not explaining this very well as So many claimants just say give us “our” money. This would suggest any old offer from the council would be good enough. This is exactly what we want to avoid. This is what a strike could produce, a poor offer just to end the strike. This is what happened to the ford Dagenham women. The strike produced an offer but they didn’t get their dues for another 16 years.
Or an offer good for some bad for others. It’s not like the jannys or cleansing where there are discrete issues for a defined group. Here we have masses of issues for a huge range of jobs and people. A strike could produce more winners and losers.
A strike would lead to a separate set of industrial negotiations from which a4es would be excluded. This could damage your equal pay cases.
Strikes lead to conflict between unions, which would break the current united front.
Not everyone on this group would support the strike and only about 10% of claimants are in this group (not all members are claimants) so it would divide the claimants too, especially without clear objectives/demands (pay us now is not a clear demand)
Striking would threaten the relationship with the political leadership. The current state of affairs is not brilliant but it’s a lot better than in the past. It’s too soon to abandon that. If the leadership eventually sides with officers that would change the position- but we are not there yet.
We need to see what the council is going to propose and they are not ready yet.
A strike would encourage a quick fix which would be a very bad thing. We are in this situation because of the last quick fix.
If,or when,the council makes what it says is it’s final offer which is not good enough, then a strike can force them to rethink. It’s generally a weapon of last resort and we are not desperate enough to need a last resort yet. Slow as it is, we need to let the negotiations play out for a while longer until they reach a clear dead end or are clearly going nowhere, AND we are ready for alternative strategies (which we’re not).
Strikes are a blunt instrument which isn’t the best way to address such complicated issues.
Obviously a well supported strike would demonstrate your dissatisfaction but would it bring about an acceptable resolution?
Of course, threatening a strike and balloting might be tactics in themselves but I return to the main question- what would you demand to call off the strike? If you go down that road you need an exit strategy. These require planning and thought. A strike now so soon after the decision not to go the Supreme Court could seem rushed, even a knee jerk reaction.
Bottom line is we need patience and you need to trust us. A strike would suggest you didn’t.
My assessment is we have the upper hand with the officers and a strike now would give that advantage away. Far from strengthening our hand we could easily end up weaker.
Anyway, these are just a quick rundown of some of my thoughts.