Asked recently if the TUC was going to organise a general strike after more government talk of pay restraint, a trade unionist replied : “I think the TUC might go and organise a general panic”. They were joking of course, but next year is not likely to bring mass strikes.
Even if next year’s Budget brings in pay and job cuts for the public sector, unions concerned will not have the luxury of concentrating their energy on fighting for jobs and pay. The PCS, with over 200,000 civil service members, is busy plotting legal and industrial action over cuts to Whitehall redundancy pay, which is expected to form its main campaign at the start of next year.
Unison, Unite and the GMB have public sector members too, notably in local government and health, where pay deals are due to be thrashed out in about four months. But they also have a Labour Party to support and fund, and a general election in three to five months. I’m not saying there won’t be any public sector strikes – that would be a bit rude, it’s down to the members who vote in the end, But Unite is wary of the political implications, and I’d be surprised if the other big unions weren’t.
Two places you can expect strikes in are British Airways, where the cabin crew still want their strike, and… pubs. The GMB is confident that its newly acquired pub landlord members will vote for industrial action against their pubco overlords in a ballot due to be held next month. Incidentally, the GMB, unlike many unions, gained members last year instead of losing them like many others.
Speaking of British Airways, if we’re very lucky we might see the European Court of Justice deliver a verdict on unions’ right to strike vs. free movement of goods and services in the EU. Pilots’ union BALPA, whose members in BA wanted to strike last year but were prevented from doing so in the High Court, is awaiting the outcome.
Oh and did someone mention Royal Mail…?
Right, that’s enough, it’s Christmas Eve already. What do you mean what about the Conservatives. Go and read a proper blog why don’t you. I’ve got presents to wrap. Meanwhile here’s some Christmas cheer as we wait to come out of recession. Good night. This blog will return in the New Year. Probably.