PCS

FCO strike in 4th week

Outsourced workers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are on a month-long strike from 3 to 28 February, for demands including company sick pay, reversal to cuts in hours, and recognition of their union, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). On 19 February, PCS activists and supporters held a flash demonstration outside the Waterloo offices of Interserve, the outsourced contractor which employs the FCO workers. Daily pickets have been held at the FCO’s Whitehall headquarters, with solidarity delegations from other unions attending. PCS members working as outsourced cleaners...

Lively pickets at FCO

The strike at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is rock solid. The strike will continue through to the end of February over our demand for union recognition. There have been lively pickets every day, and we’ve had good support from those from other unions. The strike has become a significant feature on the labour movement map of London. Strikers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also attended the “Trade Union Bloc” on the 14 February youth climate strike, which was organised by our branch at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Interserve, the outsourced...

Industrial news in brief

Sixth form colleges strike The NEU’s (National Education Union’s) last strike day in sixth form colleges over funding and pay was 20 November last year. The next is 12 February. In December the union executive and many NEU activists were, I think, hoping that an imminent Labour government would resolve the dispute in our favour. The reason for the delay being around a month after most colleges came back is to build up momentum again after the election and Xmas break. The upcoming three days (12 and 27 Feb, 10 March) are within the six month “shelf-life” of the first ballot, but at the same...

FCO strike

Our outsourced worker members at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office started a month-long strike on Monday 3 February. There’ll be picket lines every day of that strike, which was a specific decision that the strikers themselves made. That’s not about engaging in some sort of PR exercise, it’s about the strikers understanding that effective strike action needs visible and effective picketing. We’re appealing to the wider labour movement to actively support those picket lines and attend with flags and banners. We’ve had good support so far, with John McDonnell and others visiting the picket...

FCO dispute renewed

Our members at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who are employed by Interserve, are striking for a month, throughout February. This is an ongoing dispute; the workers are striking to win living wages, union recognition, and greater equality. Ultimately the demand is for direct employment, they should be employed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on civil service terms and conditions. We want to build maximum support for the strike. There will be picket lines every day, and we’re trying to persuade the TUC to launch the “I Heart Unions” month, which runs throughout February, from the...

Preparing a counter-offensive

The key thing the union must consider now, in light of the general election, is how we prepare against a likely onslaught against both unions in general, and our members specifically as government workers. Dominic Cummings has talked about a “radical reshaping” of the civil service. Whatever the precise detail of that reshaping will be, it’s inevitable that it will impact on our members. It’s common under new governments that some departments will merge, and new ones may form; that’s normal practice, but a restructure in the hands of a government like this, and led by someone like Cummings...

PCS plans new drive

Like all workers, civil servants are now facing at least five years of an extremely reactionary government. Workers’ rights and trade unionism will come under renewed assault, and as government workers we expect PCS will be in the frontline of that. We even had members on strike on election day, with our members at Ealing tax office striking for half a day to demand the office remains open. They also struck on 5 December, and have now struck five times in total. Further strikes are planned in January if necessary. The union will be launching a new organising and recruitment drive in 2020. We...

Industrial news in brief

Lewisham members of the National Education Union (NEU) in primary schools are to take part in an indicative ballot over boycotting high stakes testing. The ballot will run from 6 January for two weeks. There will be two questions on the ballot, one about “action short of strike” (i.e. the question about the boycott) and a second asking members if they will strike in the event of victimisation of members who take part. The ballot information summarises the boycott as follows: “Leadership and teacher members will refuse to administer the year 2 SATs, the year 6 SATs, the phonics test and the...

No backlash in PCS

Our intervention in this election is unprecedented in the history of PCS. In previous elections, the union has run a neutral campaign called “make your vote count”. Some in the union were worried that our stance would provoke a negative response from members, and maybe even resignations from people who wanted the union to remain strictly apolitical, but this hasn’t materialised. The previous line proceeded from the premise that all parties were objectively the same, and our job was simply to provide members with information about their various policies, especially those affecting the civil...

PCS and the election

John Moloney is assistant general secretary of PCS, writing here in a personal capacity. PCS has produced a pamphlet making the case for voting Labour in England and Wales, which has been distributed to members. We don’t want the “vote Labour” position to be passive; the union is using its resources to mobilise members to get out and campaign. We’re targeting 40 seats in particular, either ones which have a large concentration of PCS members living in them, and/or where the Labour candidate has a particular connection to the union, for example two seats where the candidates are former PCS...

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