By a civil servant
Civil servants should vote “yes” in the ballots being conducted up to 22 October by the PCS trade union for a strike on 5 November. We are facing serious attacks by a ruthless government that plans:
- to cut more than 100,000 jobs throughout the civil service.
- to increase the pension retirement age from 60 to 65.
- to scrap the final pension scheme.
- to reduce the redundancy payment scheme.
Also, in the last Budget Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown warned: “Because the current arrangements for sickness leave across the civil service and public services are open to abuse, I am also today publishing plans we propose to implement to curtail uncertified absences.”
The civil service union PCS understands that the Chancellor and senior ministers are looking at the new sick arrangements being piloted in Tesco as a model. Under them, workers are not paid for the first three days off sick.
The national union responded to these threats with a series of demands, but, since the Government refused to concede, between 1–22 October PCS is balloting its members for a one-day strike on 5 November.
Civil servants must discuss and organise now to stop the planned attacks. Solidarity supporters in the civil service think:
- PCS has mentioned pay among the “Ten Reasons” to go on strike. We think pay should be put centre-stage, alongside pensions and jobs, with a precise demand: that the Treasury set its “remit” high enough to allow pay and conditions to be levelled up across the civil service, eliminating the poverty rates in the current maze of 192 of the bargaining units.
- We should campaign for action across the whole public sector, especially on pensions.
- The defeatist line that is being argued that the PCS cannot win unless there is a general strike across the whole public sector should be rejected. PCS should follow up 5 November with targeted and sustained strike action in areas where it will hit government finances, such as the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, and Driver Vehicle Licensing.
- Offices have been targeted to be shut — 42 in the Department of Work and Pensions alone. The union should go to them and organise for sustained strike action there.
- The union should organise a national levy of all members to fund strike pay to those on sustained strikes.
Organise united fight on pensions!
Teachers, Civil Servants and NHS workers face the same threat that the pension retirement age will be increased to 65, yet the major unions in those areas are pursuing separate campaigns.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, has been trying to get those unions to co-operate but the reply so far is… maybe, later.
Along with top-level talks the unions’ ranks must talk to each other so that there is real pressure for a proper alliance on pensions. Over the next few weeks PCS branches will be banding together to see if they can hook up with branches in the NUT, health and other unions to make a start on a cross-union rank and file alliance.
PCS should be on strike on 5 November over pensions and job cuts. Our aim must be to ensure that the next time there is national action, other unions across the public sector are involved as well.