UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Sympathy is not enough - get up, stand up

Many union activists are suffering from sympathy fatigue. Some journalists and academics make a liberal charity style case for public service workers that frankly is beginning to wear thin. Even David Cameron asked the Tory Party conference for a round of applause for `the great work done by our social workers.` It seems that perceptions of public sector workers in the media fall into two categories.

The majority see us as lazy, over protected, selfish bastards who don`t know what its like to live in the real world of the private sector. Forever whinging, we cling to a black and white, cradle to grave, past that the dynamic rest of the UK can no longer afford or want. But another, albeit less popular view, is that we are worthy little souls, battling to defend the poor and the sick, we are selfless but are weak, we need to learn new ideas to help us and everybody get back to a happier place. This all of course without strikes, conflict, arguments and political campaigns. Such is the view in http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/4138009-not-our-dads-unions-anymore/

It may seem strange to reject the sentiments of supportive academics who point out many economic truths and facts about the centrality of a public sector to economic recovery. But really this is now beginning to mirror the Daily Mail. Portraying us as victims is, however well intended, yet another misleading analysis.

We are not doomed, we are not in a `no -win` situation, we are not dying out. We simply need to get organised, get our density higher and our power built. That is not sentimental work. It is hard work and it has to be done by the back bone of the unions - the workplace stewards. Exercising that power when we get it will mean strikes, picket lines, demonstrations and conflict. That is where we need to head - organised power to veto Government austerity. It won`t be pretty.

So another book arguing that we need to change is a book too far. We need to get organised. We having nothing to lose but our chains someone once wrote. Now that would be a book worth reading!