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

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Unions in 2014 - big chance or no chance?

In a Guardian interview over the holiday period TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady was upbeat on union prospects next year: ‘Our big chance will be in 2014 because we are going to see confidence return as unemployment dips and the economy recovers’. Not for the first time the TUC is looking to the USA for a campaign model - where unions such as SEIU have formed impressive worker led coalitions of civic groups and local politicians in support of workers’ rights in fast food chains.

But first and foremost British unions will have to look to themselves for solutions. A union movement that hardly ever acts as one at joint negotiating tables and requires a 12 month pause for breath between national demonstrations against austerity could hardly be said to have the workers’ inspiration running through its veins. Tackling the creeping de-unionisation of the private sector (with density at 14% overall but less than 5% in the fast growing service sector) must be an urgent priority of the whole union movement. Why not start with a joint union campaign to unionise the major hotel chains using our purchasing power as leverage with a boycott of anti union companies?

Union revival in Britain will not come easy and requires an end to sectional interests and a new unity of purpose between unions led by the TUC.