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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

PCS prepares for more struggles

THE LEFT Unity led National Executive Committee (NEC) of the PCS union met last week to make preparations for the next stage of the national industrial action campaign to defend jobs, pay and public services.

Mark Baker, PCS NEC, personal capacity

A series of regional meetings are being planned to hear the views of branch reps about a further proposed day of strike action on Tuesday 1 May. If this is agreed then the PCS NEC will be calling upon the TUC to organise a national demonstration in defence of public services on that day.

Members in the Ministry Of Defence are also balloting for strike action over pay following the imposition of a rejected pay offer for the sixth year running! If this ballot gets a yes vote the strike action will take place on Friday 30 March. This will be the first time MOD members have taken specific action over pay in their own department.

Other PCS groups are also balloting for action short of strike and we plan to organise lunchtime rallies and solidarity actions around the country.

Given Brown's provocative statement over public-sector pay last week, the public sector unions and the TUC must now act in response to their members' anger. The campaign around pensions just before the last general election showed what can be achieved when we take action together.

The first day of strike action on 31 January was even more successful than when we struck in November 2004. Courts, tax offices and jobcentres were closed. Even official figures show greater support amongst members across the country.

We will be using the run-up to 1 May to develop the biggest political lobbying campaign we have ever organised. Our Make Your Vote Count campaign will involve members contacting every significant local council, Assembly or Parliamentary candidate. This could be particularly significant in Wales and Scotland where Labour's majorities are under threat. Whilst many other trade union leaders see this period as one where you don't rock the boat, we will be putting all the parties on the spot as to where they stand on civil service job cuts, pay and public services.

5 April sees the start of the PCS national elections where the current Democracy Alliance, which has controlled the union for four years, is put to the electoral test again. This Alliance has a majority of Left Unity members in which the Socialist Party plays a key role. It has been successful in leading campaigns and increasing membership levels and activity.

However, this year as well as the usual challenge from the right-wing in the union who campaigned for a no vote in the recent strike ballot, a small number of individuals in various small sectarian groupings will be fielding candidates. They will run an extremely negative campaign which will only benefit the employer and the right wing.

In contrast, PCS members have shown confidence in the current leadership by supporting action when necessary from which they have seen concessions from the bosses. We have every confidence that the next round of planned action will be every bit as successful as the last and our negotiating, political and industrial strategy can win concessions again.

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