Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ceasefire to end?

The unions and the council have been under truce for the past couple of weeks, trying to thrash out an agreement and something was produced yesterday.
An improved offer has today been finalised between Birmingham City Council and the Joint Trades Unions over the pay and grading/single status review following two weeks of intensive talks.
Cllr Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, said: "I am delighted that we have reached an amicable outcome which, if accepted by union members, will avoid the threat of further industrial action and disruption to services.... This would be a good result for both employees and the citizens of Birmingham. I am grateful to my officers and the Trade Unions for the hard work and professionalism they have shown in reaching this outcome."
Note that it is called an 'outcome' and not an agreement or a solution to the dispute. The deal is being put to union members today and tomorrow in meetings across the city and the omens are not good. The union leaders are not enthusiastic about the offer - they are putting it forward because they have to, not because they want to. The members aren't buying it either, so unless tomorrow's meetings are the complete reverse of today, then we may be seeing a return to industrial action.

There do seem to be a lot of issues left unresolved. The additional terms and conditions on flexibility and other matters are left hanging, the seven grades remain - although I suspect that there may be some wriggle room for each side on this issue - and there is an offer of another year's 'protection' for the losers (although those losers still see their pay eroded by inflation during those years of 'protection').

This is very far from over - I think that the Spring of Discontent may be bursting into life again.

No comments: