Socialist Worker

Civil service strikers fighting to build joint action

by Andy Reid
Issue No. 2050

Striking civil service workers at the revenue and customs office at Euston Tower, central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Striking civil service workers at the revenue and customs office at Euston Tower, central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Activists in the PCS civil service workers’ union are debating the way forward for their campaign against job cuts, privatisation and low

pay following the great success of the May Day strike by over 200,000 workers.

This was the second solid one-day strike by our union this year over the issues.

The determination of PCS members to resist the government’s attacks was seen on the picket lines and in the number of civil service workplaces closed down or severely affected by last week’s strike action.

Other trade unionists joined our picket lines to show solidarity with our fight. This showed the need for unity among public sector unions in the face of Gordon Brown’s 2 percent pay limit.

This was also seen by the vibrant 500-strong Organising for Fighting Unions rally with PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and others, which ended the day in fine style in London.

Activists will discuss the way forward at next week’s PCS national conference.

The task now is to build on the hunger for united action across the public sector unions.

More unions are moving towards action, such as the CWU postal workers.

The vote by the NUT teachers’ union conference – alongside those of the Unison and RCN health unions – for action over pay were major steps forward. This needs to be fought for by activists in other unions.

We also need to continue and extend the work to bring public services into the heart of debate that PCS has started with initiatives such as May Day and the Make Your Vote Count campaign.

We need not only joint industrial action, but also a major national demonstration over public sector pay.

Within the PCS we don’t yet know the detailed timing of management’s next attacks. But will have to be ready to react when they come.

In particular, the 2007 pay round will see the 2 percent limit imposed across the board over the rest of the year.

We need to insist that departmental and PCS group leaderships coordinate the resistance to it.

Andy Reid is a member of the PCS national executive. He writes in a personal capacity

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Tue 8 May 2007, 18:20 BST
Issue No. 2050
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