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From: The Socialist issue 1068, 8 January 2020: Climate change. Poverty. War. Capitalism must go - fight for socialism

Search site for keywords: PCS - General election - Election - Union - Trade union - Tory

What next after the general election, for PCS and the left

PCS members on strike at BEIS, photo Helen Pattison

PCS members on strike at BEIS, photo Helen Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Marion Lloyd, PCS BEIS group president and national executive committee member (personal capacity)

Preparing the PCS civil servants' union to withstand the attacks of the new Tory government is urgent. Equally important is the role our union can play in ensuring the whole trade union movement responds to the coming attacks.

Johnson has spoken of being a "one-nation conservative" but in the same breath launched an attack on the right of rail workers to strike.

This, combined with the recent brutal anti-democratic court rulings against the postal workers' union, the CWU, shows the real face of Johnson's Tory government.

If the trade union movement fights with a strategy that unites workers across unions then Johnson's attacks can be defeated. In 1987 Margaret Thatcher had a majority of 147. Within 12 months the campaign of mass non-payment against the poll tax began and led to her resignation just a few years later.

Today's Tory party is bitterly divided, and Johnson was only able to win by linking Brexit with promises to invest in health, housing and education and falsely claiming he is standing up for 'the people'.

The road to Brexit is fraught with dangers for big business and the Tories. It is entirely possible that this will cause huge political problems for the government. If arrangements for a capitalist Brexit trash the economy, all the other promises on taxes and spending will become impossible to deliver. The worst estimates say that a 'no deal' exit could cause twice the damage of the banking crash.

False promises

Johnson's false promises will become apparent very quickly and provoke a response which the Tories didn't anticipate. The relevance of the anti-austerity agenda promoted by Jeremy Corbyn will be back in the minds of working people.

The trade union movement must prepare now. PCS should demand the Trade Union Congress (TUC) call an urgent 'council of war' to plan the fight back against Johnson's attacks - including demands for socialist policies and immediate support for PCS, education, postal and rail workers currently in dispute.

If the TUC doesn't act, then PCS must meet with like-minded unions to organise an effective and quick response.

For PCS the battle lines are now being drawn with Johnson, aided and abetted by his side-kick, the unelected, unaccountable Dominic Cummings, planning their overhaul of Whitehall which will impact all our members and the communities we serve. Let's not forget it was Cummings who lectured that a permanent civil service belongs in the history books!

The priorities for PCS members are already set. Fair pay, a return to national bargaining, investment in the key services we provide and an end to office closures, job losses and pension cuts. In short this means a fight to preserve a permanent, properly trained and rewarded civil service. We must also step up our campaigning to stop climate change.

The PCS Broad Left Network will have a vital part to play in the struggles ahead. We must hold the current PCS leadership to account. The 9,278 members that voted for me in the recent union general secretary election showed a tremendous level of support for the Broad Left Network and our programme.

The PCS national executive committee must reflect these members' and key activists' views, as well as the 5,059 who voted for Bev Laidlaw.

We want:

The Broad Left Network will be standing candidates in the PCS 2020 elections with a programme to counter the Tory attacks and fighting to defend our members' interests. Attend the event we have called on the 18 January 11am at the Britannia Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester. Join us in this struggle by joining and supporting the Broad Left Network.

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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.
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