How to protest: Bananaman or Brendan Barber?

The TUC Congress in Manchester kicks off today with the unions united in their opposition to government cuts. True indeed, but not the whole truth. There is, quite understandably, a wide variety of opinion on how this is to be done.

Delegates will this morning endorse a motion supported by nine major unions calling on the TUC to “support and co-ordinate joint union industrial action, nationally and locally” in opposition to public sector cuts.

But what does that mean? Does it mean the TUC working in a back office role to actually timetable demonstrations and strikes? Asked by Tribune, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he does similar things all the time: “We do co-ordinate action”. But there has not been a properly co-ordinated plan of industrial action by multiple unions since the revolt over public sector pensions in 2005. Since then, repeated TUC congresses have discussed joint action – with little result.

The RMT’s Bob Crow says he is very keen to take joint industrial action with other unions. Speaking to journalists yesterday, he said: “If people in the civil service or Royal Mail or police are taking action, my view is to link up together because otherwise we’ll be picked off one by one.” But he rejected the notion of forming formal alliances with unions to do this.

Mark Serwotka at the Public and Commercial Services Union is very keen on alliances, however: not only is his union signing a detailed formal agreement with Unison for joint working this week, but PCS has also written to other unions to offer alliances with them. Tony Woodley at Unite, they say, was “very positive”.

There’s another question. Should trade unionists engage in “civil disobedience”, resisting the government on the streets and perhaps risking arrest? Bob Crow thinks so he called for “a campaign of civil disobedience going on the streets defending ourselves. It could be anything from Bananaman going up No 10 to Spiderman going up Buckingham Palace”.

Brendan Barber is less keen. “I don’t find the idea attractive and I think it’s counter-productive,” he told John Humphrys on the Today programme this morning. The debate continues…

(from Tribune blog)


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: