Whatever happened to the "smart strike?" In the run-up to and after the November 30 2011 mass strike over pensions, the talk was not just of the need for further action but a particular form of action to increase the pressure on the government to retreat and make the necessary concessions. This was the "smart strike."
Given that a number of the major unions like Unison did not envisage being able to sustain continuing and frequent one-day strikes by all their members over pensions, the idea was to have rolling strikes across the public sector but by different groups and regions.
So, for example, a particular section of Unison's members in a particular region would strike for a day followed by another section in another region the next week.
The premise was to sustain the action with the least amount of pain - financial sacrifice through lost wages - to members.
But the smart strike also aimed at bringing out the more high-profile, visible and strategically placed section of members.
The idea was tried in Scotland by Unison to a small degree and, in a separate dispute over job losses and pay cuts, by Unison and Unite at Southampton council.
However, the tactic was never really tested out.
Consequently, we don't know whether it was able to pack a bigger punch than the mere numbers of strikers would suggest.
In the public-sector pension dispute, the momentum has long since been lost.
But the potential relevance of the smart strike is still there given that there may be a head of steam developing over pay and jobs, especially after the government's Autumn Statement.
Yet what would make the smart strike much smarter - if there is still a view that it is not possible to get all union members to strike at one time - is to go back in time to recall some smart strikes of the 1970s and 1980s.
The three that come to mind are those by the EIS teachers' union in Scotland, civil servants in central government and the engineering unions.
Between 1984 and 1986, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) engaged in a protracted dispute over pay.
Having had its first national strike in the early 1970s, and from the basis of being a professional association, the EIS was increasingly becoming the union that it is today.
But taking all-out action was difficult because of the political fallout from stopping teaching in schools and how it affects children and parents, the unwillingness of teachers to hurt kids' education and the cost of making a sacrifice through lost wages.
The solution was not just to bring out members selectively and in targeted areas but to levy all members so that striking members had an income of their basic level of pay.
The EIS levy of £10 a month on each member raised £400,000 a month and about 60 per cent of this was spent on the wages of the strikers in the constituencies of key Tory MPs like George Younger and Michael Forsyth.
The strike forced Thatcher to concede a commission which led to a pay rise that was then bettered through further action.
In the Civil Service in the "winter of discontent" of 1978-79, the Civil Service Union raised a levy on members and brought out specific members on strike pay in key areas which affected revenue.
A 15 per cent pay rise was the result, though some though this was too little to settle on.
But by far the biggest and most successful example of this kind of funded and selective strike action was by the unions of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (Confed or CSEU) in their campaign for a shorter working week in 1989-90.
Led by Bill Jordan and Gavin Laird of the AEU union, and involving mass factory gate meetings, a targeted range of large engineering factories were brought out.
There was little pressure to settle or retreat precisely because the strikers were not in any danger of being forced to work through destitution.
Forcing the larger employers to settle meant using them to bring the smaller ones into line.
A historic breakthrough was won in the battle for the 35-hour week.
It is this kind of innovative and path-breaking thinking that is needed to begin regenerating the mobilising capacity and confidence of union members to take collective action against the attacks on their terms and conditions.
At the moment, it is more likely that the lead will have to come from union leaderships to get this kind of action not only on the unions' agenda but also get it deployed.
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