Civil servants held protest meetings and rallies around the country on Friday 30 November as part of a Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) campaign against government attacks on terms and conditions.
The 10 December PCS National Executive will discuss a ballot for national action in the new year, but the Department for Work and Pensions Group Executive within PCS has already agreed to ballot for a strike. The ballot begins on 12 December, with a strike planned for 21 January if a “yes” vote is secured. Workers at the Seaham Pensions Centre, near Sunderland, which processes pensions credit claims, are also balloting for a strike over holiday-season working, which could take place on 31 December.
Around 60,000 civil service jobs have been cut since the 2010 election. The latest threatened cuts include reductions to parental leave and annual leave. PCS also reiterated its opposition to the public sector pay freeze and recent pension reforms. The December meeting of the PCS Executive is expected to discuss a timetable for an industrial action ballot. AWL members in the civil service have argued that a plodding timetable of “days of action”, followed by incidental one-day strikes, will not be enough to beat the government.
Sustained strikes in strategic areas — financed by strike pay — will be necessary to force concessions from the Tories.
Unity against fire cuts
The scale of cuts to the fire service across London may be almost twice as bad as previously feared.
A new “pre-consultation draft” from the London Fire Brigade proposes the closure of 31 fire stations across London, the removal of 36 fire engines from service, and the axing of hundreds of jobs.
The Fire Brigades Union held a lobby of Parliament over the issue on 7 November, and local campaigns have begun to emerge in areas with stations threatened with closure. A meeting on Monday 3 December at Goldsmiths University brought together local campaigners fighting the closure of stations in New Cross, Peckham, and Woolwich.
It was also attended by workers and community activists resisting the closure of A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital.
Serwotka backs Bob
Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), has become the latest British labour movement figure to back Bob Carnegie’s campaign against victimisation.
Serwotka signed a petition calling on Abigroup, the construction contractor pursuing Bob for contempt of court and for damages because of his role in leading a successful community protest at a hospital construction site in Brisbane, to drop the charges against Bob.
David McReynolds, the veteran American anti-war and LGBT rights activist who ran for the Presidency on a Socialist Party ticket in 1980 and 2000, has also backed the campaign. He writes: “I hope Bob wins his case.”