Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/361/5939
Civil Servants Prepare To Fight Jobs Slaughter
THE PCS is preparing to ballot its 310,000 members for strike action against New Labour's job culling plans. Chancellor Gordon Brown has told the union and everybody else that he won't be put off his plans to sack 104,000 civil servants by any threat of strike action. As some one once said: "He would say that wouldn't he?"
The PCS national executive committee is meeting as we go to press. It is expected to announce a date for a national one-day strike in defence of jobs and pension rights.
This will be the start of a campaign which the union is asking all other unions, particularly in the public sector, to give support to.
The union has set up an anti-cuts committee, made up of lay members, which is coordinating the campaign across the union and beyond.
It is preparing a massive amount of material to be sent to the members. This will expose the government's plans and more importantly, explain why members should vote 'yes' to strike action when the ballot starts.
The union has been given legal clearance to ballot all its members in one go. This might sound obvious but the anti-union laws insist that you can only take strike action against your immediate employer. In the case of the civil service that means over 200 separate groups of employers (agencies) set up over the past 10 or 15 years.
This means that the union has to have 200-plus sets of negotiations over pay and conditions. One of the main aims of the new left leadership of the PCS is to unify the union once again under the banner of one pay claim.
The employers and the government are only too happy to keep the union divided, some of the smaller groups are under the control of remnants of the old right-wing union leadership. If left to themselves they would refuse to participate in the joint union campaign against the job losses.
The union now will be submitting a series of demands to the "crown" employer through the so-called Whitley committee for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and the protection of pension rights. If, as likely, the employers refuse to accede to these demands, the plans for a strike ballot will be put into action. For further information read the socialist over the next few weeks.
In The Socialist 11 September 2004:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis