Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/555/6567
Striking against low pay
PCS workers on strike. Mark Serwotka, (top row, third from left) joins strikers, photo Paul Mattsson
On 10 November, tens of thousands of government workers will be on strike. This is the next stage of the campaign by civil service union PCS members to defend their jobs, their standard of living and the vital services that they provide.
Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive, personal capacity
Front page news has recently been dominated by the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand affair, taking the spotlight off the crisis in the world economy. But workers generally, and PCS members in particular, are continuing to feel the brunt of the credit crunch and the continual rises in living costs.
PCS members will send a message, telling the government that we will not pay for their economic crisis. If they can find the cash to bail out the banks, they can find money to fund a 5% pay rise to enable their own workforce to pay for the ever-increasing cost of living.
The hypocrisy of the government is never-ending. At a time when nearly £500 billion has been made available to prop up the banking system, Gordon Brown's pay restraint continues to eat into real wages for civil service workers - more than 25% of PCS members earn less than £16,000 a year.
At a time when the government can find money to pay their top civil servants massive bonuses, they impose pay cuts on the hard-working men and women who deliver vital services to the public. Some of our members earn only 13p above the minimum wage.
Gus O'Donnell, the head of the civil service, calls for pay restraint because of the economic crisis. Yet he draws his £260,000 wage, receives bonuses far in excess of the annual wage of many of our members and looks forward to a pension of more than £145,000 a year.
Meanwhile, government ministers are lording it, able to claim in expenses such things as a new bathroom at £6,335, a new kitchen at £20,000, a suite of furniture at £2,000 and a wardrobe costing £700. This, when many of their own workers can barely find money to pay for the bare necessities such as rent, fuel, food and clothes. What an indictment of 21st century Britain!
What's more, they import their friends from big business into highly paid civil service jobs, telling public-sector workers that private-sector methods are better.
The current economic crisis tells us what utter nonsense this is. It is now absolutely plain that these pro-big business, failed policies have blighted the lives of millions of public sector workers and the public we serve.
On 10 November, workers from job centres, tax offices, courts, the prison service, coastguards, driving and vehicle licence centres, passport office workers and many more, will stand together. We will be united, defending our right to a decently paid job and defending the services we deliver.
In The Socialist 4 November 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party workplace news