photo Helen Pattison

photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Dave Semple, PCS and Socialist Party Scotland member

Prices have risen by at least 27% since 2010, according to the lower estimate of inflation, the Consumer Price Index. In the intervening period, a typical civil servant has faced Tory pay freezes, pay caps and unfunded pay offers. In ten years, a typical civil servant has seen their purchasing power decrease by around 20%. This is an unprecedented squeeze on pay and living standards for 400,000 workers.

The absence of adequate leadership on the part of the civil service trade unions during Covid, best exemplified by the PCS leadership parking the full national pay claim at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, has allowed the Tory government to pick off groups of workers in individual departments, providing some extra money on pay in exchange for the sale of terms and conditions. With no serious fightback from the union leaderships, workers have taken the extra money.

For those of us who have not been offered this extra money, we aren’t impressed by Rishi Sunak’s announcement about the “end” of the pay freeze. We are used to Treasury sleight of hand, and know the devil will be in the detail of the 2022 pay remit due in February next year. The best way to secure a favourable remit is to prepare to fight right now.

Only a fighting, democratic union leadership with socialist policies can unite members across departments, with different experiences and different needs. Only a socialist leadership can win support from the tens of thousands of civil servants who have stood their distance from the union because the current leadership is seen as inept and detached from the workplace.

Socialist Party members urge all civil servants to join the PCS union, get active and join the Broad Left Network to secure in our union the policies needed to win on pay.