Coventry Council trade unions under attack from Labour council
By Jane Nellist, Coventry NUT joint secretary (personal capacity)
Coventry City Council, a Labour controlled authority, is seeking to make draconian cuts on the trade union facilities time of the recognised trade unions.
Recently in The Socialist newspaper we have had reports of attacks on trade unions in Conservative councils which are being fought alongside mass privatisation of services, but these attacks, from a Labour controlled council are an absolute disgrace. Trade Unions are organising and mobilising members to defend our rights to support our members.
What’s worse is the manner in which they are trying to railroad this through without proper negotiation and regard to our collective agreements.
A Collective Dispute lodged on behalf of Unison, Unite, NUT, NASUWT and ATL has been disregarded. The proposals outlined in a flawed document, which is defended with references to the arguments used by the Tax Payers Alliance, would mean that unions would suffer severe reductions in the time allocated for Trade Union duties to support their members, with Unison losing 45%, Unite, 21% and the NUT losing 70% of facilities time.
Pressure by the two Labour Party affiliated trade unions to persuade Labour leaders to intervene and withdraw the proposals has had no impact which makes members question more seriously why their unions are funding the Labour Party. A wide campaign has now been launched to challenge the attacks.
Two issues need to be highlighted. City Council Trade Unions have been at the forefront of the campaign to defend council services in the city. We have had some success in pressurising the council to pull back on some areas of cuts to more vulnerable services such as Library cuts, disabled transport for schools and an employment service for vulnerable adults (TESS). More importantly, these attacks coincide with the plans for the huge cuts which are about to come because Coventry Council, like others across the country have refused to stand up to Tory cuts.
It’s not just going to be services that are under attack. As well as the 1000 jobs already cut, we know that there will be more job losses planned as well as huge attacks on pay and conditions on our members.
The key issue here is that whilst you sort of expect it from Tory councils, the fact that Labour is now openly preparing the way for the Tory’s dirty work exposes just why we need political representation that supports workers and defends our services.
The National Shop Stewards Network on Saturday, demonstrated how important it is to have fighting trade unions. The NSSN conference heard from trade unionists in Coventry about the campaign – with hundreds of union activists, including shop stewards, NEC members and general secretaries pledging their support for us
The fight in Coventry needs to be supported locally, nationally and internationally because if they get away with it here then your council or workplace trade union facility time will be next.
Our trade union movement has made great advances over the decades, but what we are seeing now challenges to all of those gains. This must not be allowed to happen.
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