Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/329/5577
Civil service strike ballots
Vote 'Yes' For Strike Action
No To Low Pay
OVER 100,000 members of civil service union PCS are voting in a strike ballot over pay. Staff in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Home Office, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Treasury Solicitors and the Prison Service are involved in a co-ordinated strike ballot, following derisory pay deals.
86,000 DWP staff had a 2.6% increase imposed on them, with an unfair and devisive performance-related pay scheme (PDS).
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka pointed out: "The people being balloted on industrial action aren't your bowler-hatted Sir Humphreys. These people are very low paid, delivering key front-line services and in many cases, in receipt of the very benefits they hand out."
Under pressure from the union, management withdrew one of the worst aspects of PDS, the 'five-day rule'. This would have meant loss of performance bonuses through absences from work for things like maternity or bereavement leave.
But this rule could be revived next year in a different form. In the DWP, 55-70% of workers would not get a bonus anyway, under the PDS scheme. There was a 97% vote against PDS in an earlier ballot.
One in four civil servants earn less than £13,750 a year, so the imposition of a below-inflation pay deal, with strings attached, has angered thousands. The ballots run from 5-19 January and strike action could start at the end of January.
In a separate ballot at the end of last year, 91% voted to endorse the PCS leadership's campaign to return to national pay bargaining and to defend civil service pensions. A decisive majority vote for co-ordinated strike action over pay would be a big step forward in the campaign against poverty pay and a blow to management's belligerent attitude.
In The Socialist 10 January 2004:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party workplace news