Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/342/7578
Fighting Back Against Low Pay And Government Attacks
MEMBERS OF civil service union, PCS, gave a clear message to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) management in our solidly-supported strike on 16/17 February. Members showed we've had enough of low pay, non existent pay progression and discriminatory performance pay (PDS).
Rob Williams, PCS national executive, personal capacity
During the pay campaign PCS recruited 10,000 new members in the DWP - so we could see even more on strike on 13 and 14 April. We have a chance to show DWP bosses Richard Mottram and Kevin White once again that we are not prepared to be bullied over pay and PDS.
PCS members have been more than reasonable by allowing time for talks through arbitration service ACAS before taking further strike action. But DWP bosses have failed to respond with a reasonable offer. At first they refused to talk unless all industrial action was suspended. Then, when PCS refused, they entered talks when our action short of a strike (non-cooperation with PDS) was biting and under the threat of an Easter strike.
The new offer is only a repackage of the January offer, making it the third 'final' offer. Zigzagging between bullying and threats one moment then talks the next is a sign of management's weakness. The only really new element of the 'new' offer was a small concession on performance pay. They are worried that PDS will be a disaster for them with everyone refusing to co-operate with their appraisal.
The strike on 13 and 14 April is in effect the start of the 2004 pay campaign, as well as continuing the fight over 2003 pay and PDS. As a recent report by the National Audit Office warns: "Modernising our pay arrangements will require significant structural change and we expect to have to overcome considerable union resistance."
But management can be forced to make concessions. Even without extra money from the Treasury they still have the power to give us more, particularly by dropping PDS.
A leaked internal report from the management to Andrew Smith, the minister responsible for the DWP, shows that Mottram and other senior managers had deliberately blocked a deal.
As PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "We now know why management have been so intransigent over pay and performance systems and employed the arrogant high-handed tactics of simply imposing it on staff."
The management want to keep the union out of pay negotiations and decide who gets a pay rise and who doesn't.
In The Socialist 10 April 2004:
War and occupation
Socialist Party campaigns