The "consultative ballot" called by the civil service union PCS about more action on pay and jobs has returned a 68% yes vote. The union Executive Committee met on 1 November but decided to call no further action for now.
PCS already has a legal ballot mandate for strike action, but the supposedly left-wing PCS leadership has limited itself to two one-day strikes, 31 January and 1 May, and busied itself with "consulting" while the prison officers' action, the CWU dispute, and the Unison local government ballot came and went.
The Exec's reason for calling no further action even now is:
After months of intensive efforts, the Cabinet Office has said it is willing to enter into meaningful talks with us with the aim of reaching an agreed settlement on our national campaign demands by the end of this year...
So that all efforts can be made to reach an agreement, the National Executive Committee (NEC) has decided not to call further national industrial action while the talks take place.
However, PCS has also asked the Cabinet Office to ensure that no staff are issued with compulsory redundancy notices while the talks are taking place.
This is a wholly reasonable and achievable request. Regrettably, the Cabinet Office has so far refused.
Therefore, the NEC has decided that if any PCS members are faced with compulsory redundancy notices during the talks with the employer, it will immediately reconvene to consider a date for national strike action in line with the result of the national consultative ballot.
We hope that this will not be necessary and that good sense will prevail.
According to PCS insiders, it is unlikely even if the Cabinet Office fails in "good sense" that the the union leadership will call more than one or two more widely separated one-day strikes. Its declared strategy is to "escalate" by... farming out action to the initiative of the "Groups", the PCS committees corresponding to the nearly 200 different pay bargaining units in the civil service.
The argument is that nothing better is possible, because the membership are not ready for all-out indefinite action. AWL members in the PCS have argued for escalation through selective action by key groups of workers in areas which hit Government revenue, supported by a national levy.