by EasyEditor Newswire
Firms and organisations across the UK have been warned to prepare for year of discontent after senior union leaders predicted a surge in strike action on a scale not seen since the campaign to abolish the poll tax.
In a joint message to more than 3.5million workers across both the public and private sectors officials from the GMB, Unison and Unite unions, the biggest in the UK, have called upon members to resist government spending cuts.
“Strikes are inevitable. The more of us that stand together against the cuts, the more problems we can create. The Government has to see we are serious,” said Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union.
The unions have vowed to work together throughout 2011 to pursue a sound economic alternative even if it means calling for widespread industrial action and manning picket lines.
“It’s clear that the Government is ideologically driven to massacre public services and bring the misery of unemployment and poverty to millions. This is a recipe for social turmoil on a scale not seen since the 80’s. A whole generation of young people betrayed, facing a bleak future,” said Dave Prentis General Secretary of UNISON.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, has predicted widespread dissent and resistance on a level not seen since the anti-poll tax campaign which saw riots in the streets of London and other cities.
“We can expect to see workers in both public and private sectors out on the picket lines fighting for jobs and against savage attacks on pensions and standards of living. There is no reason for working people to pay the price for a crisis we didn’t create and which is wholly down to the banks, speculators and politicians,” he said.
However, any industrial action which impacts upon postal services, communications or transport is likely to have a major impact on small and medium sized businesses across the country. During the last postal strike the Federation of Small Businesses calculated that SME’s lost a minimum of between £500 and £5,000 each.
“Any industrial action that involves disruption to transport or postal services is going to have a major impact on business productivity and services,” said David Reilly, commercial director of Create Ts and Cs, which specialises in tailor made terms and conditions for SMEs.
“Some firms may be able to let staff access their system remotely so they can work from home but other companies can’t do that. At the very least businesses should consider having something in their terms and conditions which protects them penalties incurred by late deliveries or problems caused by events outwith their control.”
Wherever possible firms should consider drawing up contingency plans to cope with any disruptions.
“Technology is such that many firms can carry out meetings with clients by telephone or over the internet. At Create Ts and Cs we have regularly have conference calls with clients which cut down on the need for face-to-face meetings and unnecessary travel,” said David Reilly. “We at Create Ts and Cs have devised an operational process for satisfying clients who require virtual services; our bespoke well rehearsed service offering delivered over Skype or by conference call is proving time efficient and cost effective”
“If things get as bad as predicted, with strike action and demonstrations disrupting normal working patterns, businesses will have to prepare some sort of continuity plan or risk suffering potentially major consequences.”