Civil Servants Vote For Two-Day Strike

OVER 100 civil service union PCS members, delegates from
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) branches, met on 6 March. They voted for
a national two-day strike immediately after the Easter holidays in their
struggle against low pay.

Rob Williams PCS, DWP

They also agreed to deepen the action short of a strike to
make the hated appraisal scheme (PDS) unworkable.

It was the overwhelming view of the delegates that more
strike action is necessary to make the management shift from their present
position. But the conference was not unanimous on how long or when the strikes
should take place.

It was an extremely sober and serious discussion. There is
much at stake with an intransigent management backed up by New Labour
ministers. But in the end it was almost unanimous to go for the two days of
strike action.

Most delegates though agreed with the leadership’s analysis
that time would be required to convince the members to take more strike action.

One of the targets of the work to rule is the huge backlog
of tax credit claims for pensioners. The bosses will want them shifted as soon
as possible. The problem is that this might not be covered by the ballot, so
this is being looked at now.

We are setting up a hardship fund because of the huge
amount of very low-paid workers we have in our ranks.

Other sections of the civil service are either settling, as
in the case of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the Home Office,
or still preparing to take action, like the Driving Standards Agency.

The national pay claim is before us again in April but we
want to make sure that our 2003 claim is settled on our terms before this.

“THE DATES for the strikes have been welcomed and the work to rule is going very well. All staff are still fully in support of the action. But we realise more action is needed to force management to take us seriously.

Mark Everden, PCS Brighton

“The dates for the strike have been particularly welcomed because going out just after Easter means we could potentially close the department for six days, which management have shown they are not good at dealing with.

“Everyone is still determined because all the issues have not gone away. The employers paid the first bit of the pay offer in November when it suited them and they were trying to head off the strike action. But they are refusing to pay the second bit in April because now the action is in place. This has exposed them in front of the membership as using people’s wages as a weapon to bash the union.

“There’s a really good feeling about our action and a really determined mood.”