Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/333/5626

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 February 2004

Strike threat forces negotiations in civil service pay battle

OVER 5,000 members have been recruited to civil service union PCS since our pay campaign started. It has inspired a new layer of members and activists. Members see their willingness to take action has forced management to make concessions.

[Since this article was written negotiations broke down and on Friday 6 February the strike was back on]

Rob Williams, PCS National Executive (NEC), personal capacity

But managementís offer to the Group Executive Committee (GEC) of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) two days before the strike, was conditional on action being called off in that department. The GEC saw the offer was not good enough to settle on but it could not be dismissed. It was obvious that if the GEC pressed ahead with the strike, management would have told members and the public, that we were hell-bent on striking no matter what and unwilling to negotiate. Management wanted to sow division amongst the membership.

The Left Unity-led GEC decided to suspend the action for two weeks. This gave us the opportunity for detailed negotiations on the hated Performance and Development System (PDS) and to squeeze every last penny out of management.

PDS is a system which links the annual pay increase to a discriminatory performance mark decided in secret by a panel of managers.

DWP management had previously provoked membersí fury by attempting to introduce a discriminatory five-day rule, which would have docked pay for any special leave above five days, such as for sickness, bereavement leave, study leave and even maternity leave. They also imposed a below-inflation pay rise to those on the maximum of the pay scale - in real terms amounting to a pay cut.

Management were forced to withdraw the five-day rule when members voted to reject the offer. They then made another offer at the 11th hour, under the threat of strike action.

The GEC will push the negotiations onto the open stage, to expose the managementís tactics. At the end of two weeks, there will either be enough concessions to ballot members on or strike action will be called.

Concessions have already been extracted. This is a significant gain from the position of an imposed pay offer.

Members have found that the threat of industrial action is a powerful tool against the employer and this new-found confidence is a valuable for those previously hesitant and some bruised by previous defeats.

The NEC worked hard to co ordinate action across departments. Clearly the left-led GEC had to take into account the effect of not striking with the other departments. But pressing ahead with the strike would have allowed management to say the union had ignored fresh talks and an improved offer.

Nothing demonstrates more clearly the need for national pay bargaining for the whole civil service. This is the major campaign of the Left Unity-led NEC for 2004.

+The DWP Left Unity conference on 31 January discussed pay and the programme for the coming year. Delegates voted to endorse the GECís strategy on pay. All the Socialist Party members standing were re-elected to stand for the GEC as Left Unity candidates.


Strong support for civil service strike

MARK SERWOTKA, Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) general secretary spoke to a 300-strong civil servants' pay rally on 29 January. Having gone round the picket lines that morning, he said it was clear that their two-day strike had widespread support.

Bill Mullins, Socialist Party industrial organiser

The strike involved workers from the courts, the Home Office, the Prison Service and the Treasury Solicitors.

He told them: "Civil servants are some of the lowest-paid in the land with 25% on no more than £13,750, 41% on £15,775 and 81% on less than the europoean union decency threshold."

He reported that at the Royal Courts of Justice, a Group Four prison van was held up with the prisoners inside for over an hour. The pickets demanded that this be taken off their time in prison! In Shoreditch, postal workers and a number of casual workers refused to cross the picket lines."

As a result of the workers' action the Department for Constitutional Affairs have asked for talks, starting on 2 February.

Mark outlined the situation in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and why the strike there had been suspended: "The DWP are the worst management in the civil service."

They had refused talks before and had imposed a below-inflation pay increase and a divisive performance scheme. The threat of action forced them to the negotiating table on the eve of the strike. "The offer is not good enough and the strike remains live if there is no improvement over the next fortnight".

He realised the workers who were on strike were disappointed that the 90,000 PCS members in the DWP were not on strike with them: "But it is inevitable if there is to be any talks."

Later on, Tom Taylor of the PCS DWP Group Executive (GEC) explained more to a carefully listening audience: "The issue in the DWP was not just pay but more importantly the full-blown performance appraisal system that management have imposed. It makes 70% of the members worse off. There was bigger vote against this than there was against the imposed pay increase.

"We were told at 3pm on the eve of the strike that the management wanted talks and were suspending the performance system.

"The new offers are unacceptable and if there is no movement we will set the strike dates again."

Mark in his summing up said: "If the union had rejected the talks then the management would undoubtedly have publicised this amongst the membership."

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 7 February 2004:


War and occupation

No More Lies

War Crimes and Whitewashes

We demand a real investigation

BBC Workers Angry At Hutton Attacks


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

The Trade Unions And The Labour Party

Trade Union Left Convention

Civil Service Strike: Around the Picket Lines

Strike threat forces negotiations in civil service pay battle

Leicester Lecturers On Indefinite Strike

Stop These Council Cuts


International socialist news and analysis

Brazil - Movement For A New Workers' Party Is Launched

Venezuela: Workers Struggle Against Reaction


 

Home   |   The Socialist 7 February 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Civil Service:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleBalloting members on the pay cap

triangleCoordinated action needed to break pay restraint

triangleCourt victory for PCS and all trade unions

Strike:

triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

Pay:

triangleNorth London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

triangleWhat we saw

triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

Rob Williams:

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

PCS:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

DWP:

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2