Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/8921
PCS: All Out to Defend Jobs and Services
PCS members have voted to take strike action and action short of a strike, including a national overtime ban. They are clearly determined to secure an acceptable settlement that defends their contractual rights under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.
John McInally, national vice-president PCS, personal capacity
The government wants to tear up members' contracts in order to push through job cuts and privatisation on the cheap. They want PCS members, and working people generally, to pay for the economic mess caused by the banks.
PCS's hard negotiating stance based on members' support has already delivered concessions but they do not give the level of protection needed. Proposed changes to the scheme would mean:
- All civil service jobs under greater threat of redundancy.
- Services more likely to be privatised, with less protection for members.
- Members with longer service facing loss of entitlements of up to a third, potentially tens of thousands of pounds.
- Members over 50 losing rights to enhanced pensions.
- Less generous voluntary severance packages.
The government claim they want to save money on redundancy packages, but the answer is simple - don't make workers delivering vital services redundant. Don't close 200 tax offices and get rid of 25,000 tax workers when uncollected, avoided and evaded tax is running at £130 billion a year. Our communities need these services, and they certainly need the jobs - it is the economics of the madhouse to cut public sector jobs in the midst of a recession.
The government are refusing to come to a settlement because they prefer to be seen to be 'hard' on civil servants. They play to the lying millionaire press who portray our members as enjoying "feather-bedded" terms and conditions rather than the hardworking, committed and low paid workers they really are.
The Labour government and the other establishment political parties are ideologically committed to attacking the public sector in order to allow big business an unequalled opportunity to use the recession to cut jobs and cherry-pick services for privatisation.
This is the real motivation behind focusing the so-called "debate" in the media and parliament on the "unaffordability" of public spending. The real issue is the inability of the free market to provide basic security and a decent life for the majority.
PCS members have seen through this nonsense and, in voting by 64% for strike action and 81% for an overtime ban, are sending a clear message to the government - we will stick together in defence of jobs and services and will only accept a settlement that honours our existing contracts.
PCS is also taking legal action and a judicial review is to be heard in March. Whatever the courts say we are planning to make the strike on 8-9 March that opens the industrial action campaign a huge success. Rallies will be held in every major town and city and PCS are asking for speakers from other unions to demonstrate their support.
PCS has written to the relevant minister and the Cabinet Office urging them to respect the views of their employees and re-enter negotiations on the basis of an improved offer. If they don't, then the strike goes ahead and will be followed by more action and disruption throughout March.
PCS members are already lobbying their MPs, 151 of whom have signed an early day motion condemning the proposals. Labour MPs must be wondering just how incompetent their leaders really are - weeks before a general election they are prepared to risk losing the votes of hundreds of thousands of civil servants by refusing a settlement they could agree tomorrow morning.
Socialist Party leaflet:
Socialist Party leaflet: All Out To Defend Jobs And Services: Defend The Civil Service Compensation Scheme