PCS strikers and climate strike

Submitted by AWL on 18 September, 2019 - 9:20 Author: John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)
pcs

PCS is supporting the 20 September climate strike.

Our members on strike at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in London and in HMRC on Merseyside will use their picket lines on that day to raise issues around climate change, and will march from their pickets to city centre mobilisations in support of the climate strike.

We’ve encouraging branches to undertake as much activity as possible on the day and there is a wide range of activities planned across the country.

We want to organise around climate change as a workplace issue, and are supporting our negotiating reps to bargain with civil service departments and other employers over climate change issues, whether that’s issues of emissions and other environmental questions in the workplace itself, or the employer’s wider role in terms of the issue of climate change. We don’t want to just have a policy that says we oppose climate change; we need to organise around it as a class issue.

The other initiative we’re pursuing is a cross-union discussion aimed at properly developing the meaning of a “just transition”. There’s still a lot of confusion about this idea, with some in unions like Unite and GMB believing radical action to combat climate change will lead to their members in the energy industry, for example, being put out of work.

We want to develop a piece of legislative policy that maps out how the transition to a zero-carbon economy would take place in practical terms, including a guarantee that all affected workers will be offered a new job with equivalent terms and conditions. We want to discuss this with other unions and, once it’s complete, we hope to propose it collectively to the Labour Party as something we’d want them to implement in government.

One of my election pledges was to develop a culture in the union where groups of members were encouraged and facilitated in taking industrial action, and I’m pleased to see there’s a growing fight back across the union with around 16 live disputes, and more to come. There’s a steadily growing mood to confront workplace issues head on and take action.

The union needs to encourage that reflex at rank-and-file level. No submission from any branch to the union’s National Disputes Committee has been turned down. I hope this continues.

As the political situation develops, our National Executive Committee meets on Tuesday 17 September to discuss our response. We already have a policy supporting the election of a Jeremy Corbyn led government, but the NEC will discuss exactly what this will mean in practise, in terms of how we engage with Labour’s election campaign. That NEC meeting hopefully will also discuss Brexit.

With Boris Johnson lurching towards authoritarianism and intimating he may defy the law to ram through no-deal, we need to be clear with our members in the civil service that they must obey the law, and resist any pressure from senior managers or ministers to defy it in order to facilitate a no deal Brexit.

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