It was inevitable that when workers began moving again, after depression and in the face of P2000, they'd come up against the dead-weight of an officialdom used to calling the shots.
It was also inevitable that some group of workers was going to rebel against the recurrent practice of union leaders calling off strikes at the last minute for new talks. The local authority and health board craft workers had already rejected offers and the craft workers saw the usual pattern emerging, of ballot after ballot until acceptance, of all resources going to the 'yes' side.
In the deals that came back the craft rebels also faced the now usual pattern of productivity for pay, of local bargaining as a door for restructuring, instead of the reinstatement of their relativity. So they pre-empted the usual drill and put pickets on, supported in many cases by SIPTU general workers.
Their action was consciously directed at the union leaders in the Crafts Group, ICTU and SIPTU. But the heat was turned up by union leaders calling them 'mavericks' and 'wildcats'. However, the action on the analogue claim was no isolated foray. One union, the TEEU, was officially opposed to the deal.
The Regional committees organised staggered strikes around the country; mass meetings of shop stewards convened to discuss policy and SIPTU members in many places declined the official advice to pass the pickets. Expression of no confidence in the national negotiators were made.
This is the shape of the rank and file movement that will come about in a far more sustained and coherent way to challenge the approach of Liberty Hall and Raglan Road, and offer alternative leadership to union members.
The craft leaders insisted the deal was a good one and campaigned for it in the ballot that continued after the rebels stilled their strikes. The media explained it was 20p or so short. Yet the 'mavericks' were in the majority in the ballot and the negotiators went in (after deferring the strike yet again) and got an improved offer.
Unofficial or semi-official bodies like the BATU bricklayers and the national locomotive drivers committee are part of a rise in rank and file confidence. The Garda pay dispute is also, in a way, a rank and file revolt and its funny to see union leaders reversing the roles as pay police in that dispute.
With strike figures running high and disputes lining up (ambulance, courts, trains) more workers can be expected to collide with P2000 and union red tape.