Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/530/4035
Why DWP workers are striking
I'M ON strike on 24 April with hundreds of thousands of other workers across the public sector. My union, the PCS civil service union, decided to coordinate our campaign for improved pay with those of the teachers and FE lecturers.
By a DWP worker
Why am I going on strike? Compared to my last job, the pay's better, there's a pension, decent breaks and more holiday leave. On top of that, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), where I work, invests a considerable amount in training for the job, so you're not left isolated at the start. This clearly shows the benefits of a strong union prepared to defend its members' interests.
But this year, thousands of my colleagues have been offered no pay increase at all. This includes those who trained me, and a large proportion of the most experienced members of staff. They are to blame, apparently, for rising inflation.
It seems ludicrous to me that public sector workers' incomes are said to have a bearing on the price of oil. What about the effect of the invasion of Iraq or the profiteering oil companies?
The DWP has the task of getting people off benefits and into work. DWP workers must be given a fair pay offer if they are to carry out the government's wishes. But the government's approach to public sector pay is the same as towards people on benefits. They want to cut costs as much as possible.
This means that in the next three years, the senior civil servants want to reduce our service by 12,000 positions and 200 offices around the country. If a recession is likely, surely more investment into job centres and benefits will be necessary?
The government has brought in constant change. Throughout our training, we were told "that's out of date" and "that's not the way we do it now".
Unfortunately, the training programme was produced by a private company which charges so much for its services, that it can't be updated without a huge cost to the public purse.
No one wants to lose money going on strike, least of all those like me who have just started the job. But we need to stand alongside our more experienced workmates and campaign for better pay for public servants so we aren't forced to rely on the benefits that we offer!
In The Socialist 23 April 2008:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis