Tuesday, 20 July 2010

How should unions respond to budget cuts?

In a post on the TUC Stronger Unions blog, Carl Roper argues that any union response to budget cuts needs to be based on a consideration of values, narrative and action.
On values, unions need to demonstrate that they not only represent their members’ interests, but those of all workers, of the unemployed and of people who rely on public services. This requires a willingness to participate in coalitions.
On narrative, unions need to point out that the financial crisis was not caused by building decent schools and paying nurses decent wages. At present, ‘cuts’ remains an abstract term, but the union argument may resonate more with the general public when people start losing jobs and valued services disappear.
Finally, unions need to actively involve those they claim to represent, by creating opportunities for activism in workplaces and communities.
The latter point is also stressed in a column by Willem Dekker, organiser at FNV Bondgenoten. He points out that despite the crisis; voters have put neoliberalism back in power. At present, the left is not ready to take on the rich: “As far as I’m concerned, no demos, no actions, no meetings on unachievable goals, no large words in small rooms for now.” Instead, the movement should go underground and organise people, so as to be ready when Geert Wilders’ PVV really becomes the largest party.
Photo CC staticgirl

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