Socialist Worker

Scotland strike ballot lost by 80 votes after Unison squanders momentum

by a Glasgow UNISON steward
Issue No. 2367

Unison local government members in Scotland have very narrowly voted against strikes over pay.

The ballot result was 49.78 percent for strikes and 50.22 percent against. 

That’s a difference of just 80 votes out of more than 75,000 workers. 

It is clear the ballot was there to be won.

Some 60 percent had voted to reject the employers’ initial 1 percent pay offer. 

The union was correct to argue that fewer workers accept the mantra that we’re all in it together and that pay freezes are inevitable.

Local government workers in Scotland have already had pay frozen for three years—equivalent to a 13 percent pay cut in real terms.

The union leadership put a serious programme of action to members in the event the ballot was successful.

It planned two days of all-out action and five days of rolling city by city action. 

However some workers were unconvinced by the union’s programme of action, saying previous one day strikes had been tokenistic and followed simply by Unison accepting a poor offer.

And many reps questioned the timing of the ballot, taking place in a six week period over the summer. 

Considering the employers’ offer was made in November of last year, the delays since then simply meant the campaign lost momentum.

What was needed was action that would force the employers to make a better offer.

Despite the result, local government workers in Scotland are optimistic. The closeness of the result shows that a large minority of workers are willing to strike to win. 

Some workers argued the union should have taken action anyway, and won the vote on the picket line.

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Article information

Tue 20 Aug 2013, 17:49 BST
Issue No. 2367
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