Socialist Worker

Mark Serwotka: 'Make 1 May 2007 a day of struggle'

The PCS union general secretary, Mark Serwotka, is calling for the unions to make May Day a rallying point

Issue No. 2045

PCS members on the picket line in central London on Friday of last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

PCS members on the picket line in central London on Friday of last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The PCS civil service workers’ union has called a national strike of over 250,000 members in its fight against 104,000 job cuts, low pay and privatisation.

It is urging other unions to organise action on the day to defend public services.

The TUC is backing the call and local activists in the unions are organising to join the fight.

“This should be a May Day with a difference, a day when people decide that enough is enough,” Mark Serwotka told Socialist Worker. “People should support our strike and get their own unions involved.

“We are writing to every union in Britain, particularly those in the public sector, informing them that we will be striking on 1 May.

“We are asking them to turn all May Day events into actions in defence of public services. They should also be a celebration of the public sector.

“The TUC has asked the unions to do this. We want local activists in the unions to do what they can to promote May Day.

“If different unions have grievances, over issues such as public sector pay, then the more unions do things together the better chance we all have of winning.”

Some 20,000 PCS members in the Identity and Passport Service and the Ministry of Defence struck over the imposition of a pay deal on Friday of last week in a continuation of the union’s campaign.

Mark Serwotka told a rally of PCS members in central London during the strike, “We are confronting a government that is lashing out at its workforce so that it can cut corporation taxes, bring in the private sector and consultants, and carry out wars overseas.

“Many workers in the civil service are on poverty rates of pay. There is stress at work, bullying management and hourly monitoring in some workplaces.

“The government wants to squeeze more out of its workforce and ensure that people have no voice at work.

“As the PCS national executive met recently we heard that the pensions agency centre in Bath was to be closed with the loss of 400 jobs. Revenue & Customs is also closing the tax office in Bath with the loss of another 100 jobs.

“The government’s plans are unacceptable. We, and other trade unions, can make it think again. The attacks that are happening will get worse unless someone challenges them.

“Chancellor Gordon Brown wants public sector workers to be the ones who have to bear the cost of keeping inflation down.

“The people who are struggling to pay their bills have to accept 2 percent pay rises when inflation is 4.6 percent.

“Where was his talk of pay restraint when City bosses were getting £8 billion in bonuses?

“Doing nothing is not an option for the PCS. The national executive of the union has decided that we need to put more pressure on the government, which includes taking legal and political action.

“The PCS has launched the Make Your Vote Count campaign in the run-up to the elections on 3 May in Scotland, Wales and most of England.

“The union is putting pressure on the candidates, asking them where they stand on issues that affect the civil service, such as pay and job losses.

“We also need to take more industrial action across the civil service on 1 May to make sure the government takes us seriously. Our strike will be a big protest 48 hours before major elections.

“If we take action together we can challenge Gordon Brown’s pay freeze. I am addressing the NUT teachers’ union conference this week, where there is a motion being discussed about co-ordinated industrial action over pay.

“The Unison union is consulting its members in health and local government to see if there is a mood for action over pay.

“If we stand together we can get the same kind of deal we got over pensions in 2005. The government was forced to allow civil service workers to keep their final salary pensions because the unions stood together.

“If lecturers, health workers, local government workers, teachers, firefighters and civil service workers all come together we can make a difference.

“We are prepared to take action in defence of public services. Let’s make May Day the biggest demonstration of the fact that people have had enough.

“We need to let the whole of the trade union movement know that these problems won’t go away if Brown becomes prime minister.”

For more on the PCS go to Civil service workers are striking against Brown

Organising for Fighting Unions May Day rally

Tony Benn, Mark Serwotka, George GallowayMP, Billy Hayes, Paul Mackney, Lindsey German, John McDonnell MP, Linda Smith, and John Rees (all in a personal capacity)
6.30pm, Tuesday 1 May, Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London NW1
Email [email protected] or phone 07049 091 475

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