The unity necessary to break Gordon Brown’s 2 percent public sector pay limit took a major step forward last week as Unison union leader Dave Prentis called for coordinated strikes.
The PCS civil service workers’ union conference in Brighton voted overwhelmingly to coordinate industrial action with other public sector unions where possible over pay, privatisation and job cuts.
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, Britain’s second biggest union, sent a message of solidarity to the conference. It called on the unions to coordinate action in defence of public services and over pay.
Prentis wrote, “Unions cannot fight these battles alone and the PCS and Unison should be working together to maximise our impact in responding to the attacks upon us. I propose that we should meet to discuss:
“How we can better coordinate our campaigns against privatisation and work together to promote public services.
“How we can liase on developments on pay, so where there is industrial action we coordinate where possible such action.
“The sharing of developments in public services, the impacts on our members and the development of our response.”
PCS members have already struck twice this year against Gordon Brown’s plans to slash 100,000 civil service jobs. Now members are gearing up for further action, alongside other unions.
Dave Prentis’s letter, the CWU postal workers’ union ballot for strikes over pay, and the RCN nurses’ union’s decision to hold an indicative ballot of its members, increased members’ determination to take on Brown.
Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, told the conference, “We have been engaging in the most serious campaign in our history. There have been compulsory redundancies and there are more to come.
“Gordon Brown has demanded further budget cuts. Now is not the time for us to keep our heads down. We are a beacon of hope to the movement and an inspiration to others.
“Our strategy of engagement with other unions has been right. We seek to engage with the leadership of sister unions and the grassroots at local levels.
“The support we saw for our action on May Day shows that it is working. It is also shown by the letter I have received from Dave Prentis. We can achieve negotiated settlements. We need to stay on course and be bold enough to win.”
There was a lot of anger against new Labour leader Gordon Brown, who has driven through privatisation in the civil service, slashed jobs and imposed the pay limit.
The conference voted to launch a national petition to the new prime minister in defence of public services and public sector workers.