Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/501/3109
Standing up to Brown's attacks
WHEN GORDON Brown spoke at the TUC, he stressed the point that most British workers have jobs, unlike in the past. He kept saying how miserable it was under Thatcher with three million unemployed. He said inflation has been 'defeated' over the last ten years and this must continue to create more jobs.
Jane James at the TUC conference
His message to everyone in the audience was that "pay discipline" is essential to prevent inflation, maintain growth and create more jobs. That angered most people, though most gave him a gentle clap. But the PCS delegation held up posters throughout his speech saying "fair pay for public services" while RMT delegates held posters saying "end tube privatisation".
The people who stood out in the debates were Brian Caton from the Prison Officers Association (POA) and Bob Crow from the RMT. They were scathing of Brown.
Brian Caton said that the POA will get their trade union rights back. "We're not bothered about the law, we'll still go on strike if we have to," he said. On Thatcher, Caton said: "Once she's dead and gone we'll put on her gravestone 'under this sod lies another'".
The PCS called an important and well-attended fringe meeting on pay. PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions have voted by a 76% majority to reject a pay deal. This is 2% this year, 0% next year and 1% the next year - three years of nothing. Many people were comparing this to the City bosses' bonuses.
25,000 PCS members across all departments have been consulted over the summer. If there's no movement from government they will all be balloted for action.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, called for meetings to be held all over the country to link public-sector workers with the community and prepare for a pay battle. Even the TUC have put out a statement saying they support co-ordinated action.
Jean Geldart of Unison's local government executive reported that Unison's local government members will be balloted in October over pay, with the possibility of strikes in November.
PCS president Janice Godrich pointed out that 1.5 million workers were represented on the platform, a significant force if they were all to come out on strike.
STOP PRESS: The PCS resolution calling for united action in opposition to Brown's public-sector pay freeze was passed. This is a real victory for trade unionism and members of public-sector unions in particular must press for its implementation.
Civil service ballot
After a six-week consultation process involving over 1,325 meetings and 22,000 civil service union PCS members, a ballot of 270,000 members has been called. The ballot for national industrial action will cover over 200 different government departments and other public bodies, as part of the union's campaign against job cuts, low pay and privatisation.
The ballot is due to start at the end of this month.
In The Socialist 13 September 2007:
War and terrorism
Workplace news and events
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International news and analysis
Socialist Party review