UCU says government should stop spinning and start negotiating

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The UCU has said the prime minister’s search for someone to blame for next week’s strike should end when he finds a mirror.

David Cameron last week attempted to hold trade union leaders responsible for the strikes, saying: “People will know who to blame for disruption during the strikes”.

In the light of this comment, UCU suggested trade unionists would be blamed for bad weather next following a week of attacks from the government spin machine.

The union said ministers should stop spinning and start negotiating if they really wanted to avert the largest day of co-ordinated action in a generation. This week the prime minister suggested the strike was illegitimate and would cripple the country – something the union said the government was doing rather well on its own.

Rejecting claims of militancy, the union said its members would prefer to be at work than being on the picket line next week.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “So far this the government has blamed everything but the weather on the wicked trade unions.  If it starts raining though, expect to see Brendan Barber put in the frame for that too.

“We are far from the reds under the beds portrayed by government. We are public servants who want to be at work supporting the next generation rather than on the picket line. Instead of continuing his desperate search to find someone to blame for the impending strike on 30 November, the prime minister should stop, pause and look in the mirror.

“The real problem is that the current government simply does not understand trade unions and how they work. It offers us a 15 minute strike for free; completely misjudging the anger there is among staff about the pension proposals. Then the prime minister – himself with a rather shaky electoral mandate, starts lecturing us about whether 80%+  strike votes are sufficient to call for strike action.

“Yesterday, we were even accused of destroying the economy – a job the government seems to be doing quite nicely on its own thank you very much.

“The problems our country face are too serious for this silly spin.  Trade unions did not create the crisis.  Nor did they invent the current, unjustified attacks on their pension schemes.  I, and others, have spent the last few weeks working for a negotiated settlement. This week though has shown that negotiations are clearly a secondary priority for a government that prefers to do its talking on the news channels.”


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