Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/649/10700
PCS: Vote 'yes' for action against cuts
The national executive (NEC) of civil service union PCS is launching a policy ballot urging members to vote 'yes' to reject the government's proposals on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). These proposals tear up members' accrued rights, severely cut redundancy payments in both compulsory and voluntary situations and make the overwhelming majority of members worse off than under existing entitlements.
John McInally, PCS national vice-president, personal capacity
The intention is to drive through up to 100,000 job cuts as quickly and cheaply as possible. This is not just an attack on redundancy payments but a major assault on jobs and services - that is why the NEC is also urging members to vote 'yes' in a second question in the ballot to support the union's campaign to defend jobs, pay, pension and services.
PCS has fought a tremendous campaign to defend the CSCS. The Labour government began the attack but members took three days of action in March which set the conditions for victories in the High Court. This ruling stated it was unlawful for the government to impose a new scheme without union agreement.
The Tory/Liberal coalition government then sought to get around the law by introducing primary legislation in parliament. Despite every effort by PCS to reach a negotiated settlement, including demanding that any redundancy payments under any new scheme were more fairly distributed in favour of the lower paid rather than the small percentage of high earning senior civil servants, the government has decided to press ahead and impose the detrimental proposals.
PCS and the Prison Officer's Association (POA), which between them represent the overwhelming majority of workers covered by the scheme, are balloting at the same time. A rejection of the proposals would show that there can be no settlement without union agreement.
Some smaller unions, with a particularly pernicious collaborative role having been played by the First Division Association (FDA) and Prospect, struck a deal behind PCS's back with the Cabinet Office. But this will not deter PCS and the POA from defending members' interests.
The ballot is an indicative one, not for industrial action, but no less important for that. As the union prepares to fight the government's cuts programme a clear rejection of the CSCS proposals and support for its defence of jobs, condition and services will send a clear message that our members will not be a soft touch for these unwarranted attacks. A positive ballot result will build a firm foundation for the union's campaign, including industrial action, both national or with other unions.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has indicated it will ballot on pensions next year and PCS will do all it can to coordinate any such action on this or any other issue that represents an attack on our jobs and conditions.
As the sheer scale of the cuts is hitting home and the implications for our jobs, services and communities becomes clear, opposition is building. The tremendous protests of students and school students and the proliferation of anti-cuts groups is setting the scene for more generalised opposition.
The TUC has a clear policy to coordinate the campaign against the cuts, including industrial action, and will come under increasing pressure to do so. But PCS and other unions with campaigning left leaderships will build campaigns to defend their members' interests now.
The ballot starts on 7 December through to 14 January and every PCS activist will be working flat out to win a 'yes'/'yes' vote.
In The Socialist 1 December 2010:
Youth Fight for Education
Socialist Party editorial
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis