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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 May 2016

PCS leads the way in fightback against Tories

PCS members in action, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS members in action, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

John McInally, PCS vice-president

What a difference a year makes! Last year's PCS (civil servants' union) conference took place in the immediate aftermath of the Tory election victory. All the pessimists in leading positions in the labour and trade union movement shied away from a fight against what they saw as an all-powerful government.

But the anger against the Tories found an outlet in the unexpected election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

All socialists welcome this but we recognise the need for the new Labour leadership to really transform Labour into an anti-austerity force with other lefts inside and outside the party. This requires a fight against the pro-austerity Blairites in parliament, the councillors and party machine who will never be reconciled to his leadership.

The events of the last 12 months have shown that far from dominant, Cameron's government is in crisis. Divided over Europe and after a raft of u-turns, it's dawning on the Tories, but more importantly on increasing numbers of workers, that they are in a much weaker position with a paper-thin majority.

Yet the majority of the trade union leaders have baulked at the fight - celebrating marginal concessions on the trade union bill and the TUC general council refusing to act on the call of PCS and Fire Brigades Union to organise a national day of action in support of the heroic junior doctors and in defence of the NHS.

Correctly, PCS has consistently called for sustained joint co-ordinated public sector campaigns and strikes. We believe that this action, particularly on the scale of a 24-hour general strike across the wider union movement, can defeat the Tory anti-union laws and their vicious cuts.

As with the pensions strike in November 2011, PCS will again take the lead in working with other fighting unions in these struggles. It is no accident that the BMA's junior doctors' conference on 14 May passed a motion calling for them to work closely with other unions.

PCS has been singled out by the Tories because of our militant record. The attack on check-off was taken out of the trade union bill a year after it was removed from us. An incredible campaign by our members and staff has gone a long way to shore up the membership and finances.

In the face of these attacks, PCS has fought and won major gains and concessions.

After the National Gallery and Scottish museums disputes, members are on all-out strike in the National Museum Wales, workers in BIS are striking over office closures and redundancies and members in land registry are again fighting the threat of privatisation after defeating the first attempt.

Cameron and co can be defeated and PCS conference can underline the leading role that PCS will continue to play in both defending our members and building mass defiance of the Tories.

Socialist Party fringe meeting: After the elections: how do we kick out the Tories?

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In The Socialist 18 May 2016:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories attack: fight back

NHS staffing black hole

Bristol Green backs cuts

Stamp out sexist dress codes

University of Facebook

Blair bombshell

What we saw

Them & Us

PCS Conference 2016

PCS leads the way in fightback against Tories

"Where's Carwyn?" - museum workers demand action

BIS members strike to save jobs and keep offices open

Government defeated by check-off court challenge

The EU

The EU and the economy - Project Fear steps up

Vote to leave the 'Employers' Union' and fight the bosses' government

Socialist Party workplace news

Teachers: vote Yes to strike - defend pay and conditions

Higher education action over pay and casualisation

Junior doctors vote to work with and develop links with other unions

Unite housing workers walk out against intransigent bosses

Low paid Pennine Foods workers strike over cuts to premiums

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

On an upward trajectory: my experience as a new Socialist Party member

Newcastle: countering the fascist menace

International socialist news and analysis

France: New stage in battle over labour law

Belgium: unions call national demos and general strikes

Readers' comments and reviews

TV review: Occupied

Featured letter: stop the badger cull

Socialist postbag


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