Plans for joint strikes by teachers, nurses and civil servants in the summer – in response to below-inflation pay rises, job cuts and privatisation – have been attacked by a senior public sector trade union figure.
Jonathan Baume, general secretary of senior public servants’ union the FDA, said that such a campaign would be counter-productive for unions and workers.
He warned: “Aggressive protest strikes may make people feel better, but members will surely question whether there is really a point in losing a day’s pay to demonstrate an anger of which the government is already well aware.
“More sustained confrontation between the public sector unions and the government would be damaging and dangerous.”
Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary Mark Serwotka said that the end of the summer could see “widespread industrial action”. Fellow public sector union Unison has pledged its support for joint action, and the National Union of Teachers is also involved in talks.
But Baume said there was no point in the strikes. “It is clear that, whether fair or not, the chancellor is likely to stick rigidly to the policy announced,” he said. “If he scraps his policy now, he [risks] shredding his political credibility.”
Rather than damaging their own credibility by staging doomed strikes, Baume believes the unions should instead work towards having a say in public sector reforms.
“It is clear that long-term confrontation will never provide a basis for progressing these issues on our members’ behalf,” he said.