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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 August 2004

Warning: Public Sector Under Attack


THE NEW Labour government has declared war on the public sector. Tens of thousands of jobs are in jeopardy in the civil service.

Firefighters are still battling for a decent wage after two years, as it becomes clear that New Labour wants to attack the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) itself. But the trade unions can use their strength to fight these assaults.

A fightback must be built across the whole public sector, including building for a one-day public-sector strike.


There's a growing mood of anger amongst PCS members. We've already had a pay deal imposed this year which has resulted in the strikes over pay being the best supported for some time.

Fran Heathcote, PCS civil service union, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Group Executive (personal capacity)

Now people have had their appraisal results under the new relative assessment system that management are trying to introduce. A lot of people, next year and beyond, will have either no pay rise or a very minimal pay rise.

So members who have previously kept their heads down and not supported strike action have decided that enough is enough. The announcement about the job cuts was the final straw for a lot of people. People that previously didn't do an awful lot in the union have suddenly got mobilised.

THE ACTION that PCS are planning to organise over the coming months will be crucial. The PCS national executive have agreed a national day of strike action opposing the job cuts in the autumn.

In the DWP we've recruited 14,000 new members since the first ballot papers went out over pay at the end of last year. People have joined the union because they can see we are campaigning over something that affects them. We've done a lot of work in PCS to move from what was a servicing union to an organising union.

Stick together

Any PCS member looking to stand up for themselves about pay and about staff cuts should know we have to stick together. Keeping your head down and not saying anything doesn't work.

We can see that because of the imposed pay deal and the appraisal scheme, which is determined not by performance but by how much money the government has got. That's when an admin worker in our department gets just above the minimum wage and there are 90,000 staff on less than 15,000 a year.

They've planned these job cuts based on a computer system and a benefit system that work, which they don't. Nobody, including the management, knows how these cuts can be made.

This is an attack on the particular public service that we provide but obviously there's no 'good' deserving public services and 'less-deserving' public services. An attack on any public service affects everybody.

So other public sector workers must unite with us - whatever happens to us at the moment could be happening to them. Eventually there must be united action across the public sector.

We've seen the way the firefighters have been treated so all public sector workers must stand together.

We're trying to broaden the public's idea of what civil servants are. We want our members to get the message out about what life is like for civil servants - many having to claim the low income benefits they are administering.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 21 August 2004:

Warning: Public Sector Under Attack

Action needed across the public sector

New Labour at war with firefighters

The fighting spirit that saved a pit

Know your rights

Europride Manchester: Stop bullying and discrimination


International socialist news and analysis

Resistance in Iraq

Oil prices set to rock world economy

Armed intervention in Sudan must be opposed

Venezuela referendum - corrupt elite lose again

Boston: Hundreds pack Ralph Nader meeting

Building for a socialist world


Workplace news and analysis

Swansea staff fight outsourcing

Yorkshire bus drivers: Determination pays off


 

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triangleHugo Pierre, a candidate in Unison's general secretary election, speaking at Socialism 2020, 21st November 2020

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