Public & Commercial Services Union - trade union for civil servants
CIVIL SERVICE: PCS has, for all practical purposes, announced the end of its national pay campaign. In a union circular, general secretary Mark Serwotka and union president Janice Godrich claim that the union has won major concessions.
In fact the so-called deal is not a deal at all. It does not materially change the circumstances on the ground. It does not revisit the below-inflation pay awards of 2007. It does not reduce the number of different bargaining units into which the civil service is divided for pay negotiations (currently about 200).
The decisions by the PCS civil service union and the National Union of Teachers not to strike over pay in November mark a setback.
The Government has imposed a two-and-a-bit per cent pay rise limit, a limit which cuts real wages. Over two pay rounds now, public-sector union leaders have put out vast volumes of talk about united union action to beat that limit. Both pay rounds have passed without any serious such joint action being organised.
This is the full text of the PCS leadership's explanation to union reps of why the 10 November strike was called off.
PCS suspends national industrial action over pay
The PCS national executive committee met this morning and following their receipt of a letter from Sir Gus O'Donnell, head of the home civil service, have decided to suspend the industrial action planned from Monday 10 November and the overtime ban proposed to commence on Tuesday 11 November.
The Socialist Workers Party has three members on the NEC as part of the Left Unity slate – Sue Bond, one of the National Vice Presidents, Andy Reid, and Paul Williams.
Paul Williams is a serious trade union militant who AWL supporters suspect was placed on the NEC slate to stiffen the backbone of the SWP NEC members (for instance the then SWP NEC members, including Sue Bond, had supported the calling off the planned jobs, pay and pensions strike in 2005).
In November 2004 PCS members struck in support of six demands, including national pay. Yet pay never featured in the propaganda for the dispute.
Similarly, in 2005, members were balloted on a number of demands – including jobs and pay - but were then told the planned strike, called off for the “two tier” pensions deal, was really only ever about pensions (and frankly pay again did not really feature in the membership bulletins).
In 2005 the PCS leadership said, “We have persuaded the Government to introduce a fairer, more coherent pay system…” It was typical of the spin that has come to characterise the PCS’s would-be Marxist leadership.
The PCS national dispute is a necessary strike against a gratuitous government pay policy that is squeezing public sector workers at a time of sharply rising costs. It is a fight we have to win if civil servants are not to have their living standards slashed this year and in coming years.
The PCS National Executive Committee's decision to "suspend" the national civil service one day strike planned for Monday 10 November is at best a dreadful mistake. Or it may be a prelude to abandoning the action, possibly on the pretext of some relatively minor concession.
The PCS (civil service union) strike planned for 10 November has been called off. More details and comments later.
The PCS civil service union has called a strike for 10 November, and the teachers’ union NUT will announce the result of its strike ballot on 3 November.<--break-->
Civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) are set to strike in November against the Government’s two-and-a-bit per cent limit on pay rises — but on different days.
How the foul-up happened is a mystery. Both unions now have avowedly left-wing Executive majorities and top full-time officials. Both union leaderships make a big deal of wanting united action by public sector workers against the Government's wage-cut plans.
It is obviously welcome as Robin Sivapalan reports (Solidarity 3/139) that the campaign against immigration controls is being taken into the trade union movement, given the way these laws are used against the struggles of migrant workers on the Tube and elsewhere.
If anything sums up New Labour as a Government for the rich, a cuckoo in the labour movement nest, it has to be their year-on-year drive to keep public sector wages below the rate of inflation.
Unbelievably, it looks as if the pay strikes by civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) in November could be on different days.
The NUT's ballot begins on 6 October, and the PCS's on 24 September. Under the current laws, a ballot mandate for industrial action has to be activated within 28 days, or it lapses; at the same time, however, there's a minimum time (notice to the employer, and so on) between a union getting a ballot mandate and organising a strike.
Perhaps the most positive development at the TUC congress was the formation of a new Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, led by left-wing MP John McDonnell and bringing together the RMT, PCS, NUJ and FBU (with the POA, NAPO and BFAWU expected to come on board soon). The group aims to act as a workers’ voice in parliament and coordinate the parliamentary work of trade unions.
Increasingly in the Civil service, and probably in the public sector generally, there is a move to fragment jobs and functions i.e. to introduce further division of labour.
Therefore it is good to report an interesting experiment in the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), which is part of the Department for Transport, that flows contrary to this tide of work fragmentation.
As we go to press (20 August 2008) a 24-hour strike action by local government workers, members of UNISON, UNITE, and the GMB is taking place.
The same day PCS members employed by the Scottish Government and Registers of Scotland, are staging a follow-up 24-hour strike.
Both strikes are about below-inflation pay offers for workers in the public sector.
The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has offered local authority workers a three-year pay-deal, with pay going up by just 2.5% each year.
CIVIL SERVICE JOB SECURITY
PCS members are currently being balloted on a job security agreement struck with the Civil Service. This agreement, called the protocols, is the result of long running union agitation over job security. Members should vote in favour, but be clear as to limitations and weaknesses.
By a civil servant
• TEACHERS: The Executive of the National Union of Teachers on 29 May considered alternative timetables for a ballot for discontinuous strike action to continue the pay campaign. The recommendation discussed was a ballot for the Autumn. The earliest date based on that timetable would be 12 November.
Pay will be the major issue before this year’s PCS national conference. Given the general pay squeeze across the public sector and high inflation rate everybody expects that civil servants will get below inflation offers; with many of these increases being non-consolidated. All rational activists agree on the importance of public sector unions working together. If this were to happen, or even if a few unions were to band together, it would be politically and industrially significant
Civil service by Workers’ Liberty PCS Members
A number of Groups (sectors) in PCS are striking on 24 April alongside the teachers and lecturers.
Our strike will make the news and will undoubtedly worry the powers that be; how much better if the whole of the PCS union was on strike.
Of course it does not stop there. Where are Unison, GMB, Unite etc? Gordon Brown has a united and consistent policy towards public sector pay and employment, yet the union movement does not.
The picket line at the Shelter office on Old St, London, was good. On the workers' third day of strike action - after a long pause, a lot of pressure from management, and a lot of foot-dragging or worse from full-time union officials - picket numbers were still buoyant, and the mood was defiant.
Old Street is the base for Shelter's top management, and employs a lot of agency workers, so some people did go into work. But, during the time I was on the picket line, only similar numbers to those on the 5 and 10 March strikes.
Not just one-off actions
To win: an ongoing strategy with selective strikes
Driving examiners strike
On the 29 February members of the PCS union in the Department for Transport (DfT) took strike action over low and unequal pay, jobs and privatisation.
The strike had a great impact:
The civil service workers' union PCS has called off strikes set for 31 January.
The PCS website reports:
"The Group Executive Committee (GEC) [in the Department of Work and Pensions] met on Thursday 24th January and agreed to suspend the strike planned for 31st January because the DWP had agreed at the last minute to have more talks to try to find a negotiated settlement in our pay dispute."
Draft motions on pay, multi-year pay deals, and public sector alliance for PCS conference 2008.
1) This conference notes that:
For the shareholders and potential buyers of Northern Rock, the Government is all smiles and graces. Another few billion pounds? Yes, sir, of course!
For millions of public sector workers, it is a different story. The Government is insisting not only on a limit of around 2% on pay rises - which, with inflation at 4%, means cuts in real wages - but also on locking that in with settlements lasting three years.
Civil service workers in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will strike on 31 January over pay. They are likely to be joined by workers in HMRC (Revenue and Customs), striking over job losses, and workers in the Home Office (striking over pay).
Next in line are workers in the Department for Transport, who will be balloting from 25 January to 15 February. The union in DfT plans a one-day strike on 29 February, followed by a six-month plan of selective action designed for maximum impact.