Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/334/5634
Civil service strike
Fighting Low Pay
JOBCENTRE AND benefit office staff will be on strike against low pay on 16 and 17 February, whilst Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) management's plans to cut 18,000 jobs have been exposed.
"Most people in the DWP think we haven't got enough staff to do the job now", PCS national executive committee member Rob Williams told the socialist.
These 85,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will be joined on strike by administrators from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) on 16 and 17 February and driving examiners on 17 February.
Talks with the (DWP) management broke down after PCS suspended strike action to allow negotiations on an improved pay offer and the divisive and unpopular PDS appraisal system.
John McInally, from the PCS DWP executive explained: "Members hate this appraisal system; it will be a disaster for members and is being resisted in offices up and down the country... Management were told that unless this was to be part of the negotiation then the strike would go ahead. Management agreed, in writing, to negotiate relative assessment at the last minute. But management were not sincere about serious negotiations."
Their performance appraisal system is central to the leaked plans to cut 18,000 jobs by 2006.
Staff are insulted about the poverty pay they have to live on. "I was talking to a new member this morning," Rob Williams told us.
"He has just started in the DWP having been made redundant from his previous job. He's an admin officer with a starting salary of about £12,000, half of what he used to get. He thought for that money the job must be dead easy. But he's been shocked at how difficult the job is and how much responsibility he's expected to bear. And the department demand a lot in terms of professionalism and integrity, all for the sort of money you'd get stacking shelves in Tescos."
Resolute strike action, following the success of the strikes in the courts, Home Office and other departments at the end of last month, will show management they cannot get away with their plans.
The PCS campaign for a return to national pay and conditions is vital to ensure that members do not pay for management's plans with their jobs as well as their pay and working conditions.
In The Socialist 14 February 2004:
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis