A famous politician once said: “You must be able at each particular moment to find the particular link in the chain which you must grasp with all your might in order to hold the whole chain and to prepare firmly for the transition to the next link”.
The task of activists at the annual conference of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS, 20-22 May) is to determine the next link in the chain of the dispute and to pull as hard as we can to move onto the next link. That means abandoning the present approach of the union leadership; the tactic of the isolated one day strike. This method of fighting is not new to PCS and has been used, and found severely wanting, in previous disputes as it has in this one.
An emergency motion for PCS conference from the Independent Left (IL) grouping suggests a new way forward.
Members voted to take industrial action on pay and jobs as well as pensions. The pay and jobs part of the dispute has been ignored.
Fighting on jobs and pay maximises the chances to mobilise members. PCS should work to build the widest possible alliance with other unions, but must be prepared to fight alone if necessary. The alternative is to let the fake left leadership of the likes of the NUT determine the pace and tactics of the dispute.
The strike on Thursday 10 May was relatively solid, and perhaps better than could have been expected for an isolated strike several months after the last national action (30 November). But the stale one-day-strike-at-a-time tactic has to be abandoned.
In its place we want as much all-members’ action as we think is possible, coupled with selective action, financed by strike levies, in the key parts of the union.