Tuesday 1 May is a key date for the fight to break Gordon Brown’s 2 percent public sector wage freeze and to defend public services.
This May Day will see 250,000 PCS civil service workers’ union members striking against job cuts that will devastate services, and against low pay and privatisation. Other groups of workers will protest and show solidarity with us.
The PCS is leading the revolt against Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s plans to give workers an effective pay cut while forcing us to work harder.
But other groups of workers look set to join us. NHS workers in the Unison and RCN unions are planning to ballot to take action over pay. The Unison health conference also supported protests on 1 May.
The teachers’ NUT and NASUWT unions have both recently voted at their conferences to ballot their members if a 2 percent pay offer is made to members. Postal workers in the CWU union are also moving towards confrontation over the issue.
The Labour government stands behind the attacks on public sector workers and the services we provide. The same government that is proud to spend billions of pounds on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is refusing to give its workers a decent pay rise.
The government is fighting hard against us. The Cabinet Office has declared that talks between the government and the PCS will not take place until the union calls off its industrial action.
Blair may be going very soon, but things aren’t going to get better under Brown, the architect of the cuts in the civil service, the pay limit and New Labour’s wider free market policies.
We will need to fight even harder under Brown. May Day will take place two days before local government elections across Britain, and elections to the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly.
The strike and events on May Day will highlight the threat the public sector faces from New Labour. The PCS’s strategy in this dispute is based on raising the political issues to hit New Labour, and fighting for the biggest possible unity of public sector workers in action.
Everyone should take some kind of action on May Day – trade unionists, community groups, students and anti-war activists. But we will also need further united and hard-hitting action to beat back this government.
Kate Douglas is the joint branch secretary of the PCS Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire DWP branch