Yesterday's joint meeting of public sector trade unions gathered together the forces that, together, have the strength to stop this Government's damaging cuts on jobs, pay, pensions and services.
The media headlines and reports about unions discussing action were good to read - but what an opportunity was lost by the TUC tops to announce that that action was now on its way!
Instead of using the media attention to issue a clear call to arms, the impression from the official TUC statement is one of further delay and prevarication. It risks encouraging the Government into thinking that the trade union movement is not serious in standing up to their attacks. Trade union members, knowing that their jobs and pensions are under threat, will also be disappointed that there has not been a clearer lead.
A Lewisham NUT school rep emailed me to say: "Listening to Today this morning there was talk of the strike ballot and strike not happening until late Summer / Autumn as the TUC is in negotiations with the government. I think this would be a mistake and should be avoided as we have built up a fair level of momentum and this would be dissipated if we go down this "put off till tomorrow strategy". Surely a strike by all public sector unions not only gives negotiators more clout but also energises the strikers themselves? I feel this would be a big strategic and tactical error".
Fortunately, this need for greater urgency was made clear by some of the left-led unions within the TUC meeting. The NUT Executive is meeting again on February 10th to discuss what now needs to be done.