Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/443/5264
Delegates debate DWP strikes
ON THE second day of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) section of the civil service union PCS conference, delegates wrestled with the crucial question of "where now for the DWP strikes?"
The fight against massive job losses and the imploding of the service, has seen the union's socialist leadership facing up to its responsibilities to its own members and the claimants depending on them.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka opened the discussion by restating the nature of the attacks and the union's response: "DWP members have taken 1.5 million days of strike action since 2001, in defence of jobs and services.
"Now the government may have been forced into serious negotiations." John Hutton, the DWP minister, has blinked first and called for negotiations.
"If the government have changed their minds, that's good but we've been here before," Mark Serwotka continued.
The emergency motion from the Group Executive Committee (GEC) called for escalation of action "if the management are not sincere".
John McInally spoke for the GEC leadership, explaining: "There is a difference between those that want to fight and those who are full of pessimism and gloom."
The latter attitude was best expressed by Lee Rock, a delegate from Sheffield and a leader of the Socialist Caucus: "We have already lost 18,000 jobs, with another 12,000 due to go.
"We are not winning, tens of thousands of our members are scabbing. We may claim 90,000 out on strike but that is no more than 60% of the workforce. We can't deliver any more national action. The Socialist Party says the bosses are on the retreat, they're not. We need a better strategy."
It seems the strategy they're proposing is for the overtime ban to be continued and for the Group Executive to select groups of workers to come out on 50% or 85% strike pay.
John McInally said in his reply: "This means, we can't deliver national action therefore the GEC should pick some people to fight for us and pay them to do it."
He emphasised that if management showed bad faith in negotiations then the strikes would have to be escalated. But only after full consultations, which will probably mean a recall delegate conference.
The leadership's emergency motion was overwhelmingly carried.
In The Socialist 8 June 2006: