Delegates at Prospect’s special union conference last week broke into cheers when Nick Wadge, a delegate from Plymouth’s dockyards, described how a recent 24-hour strike had halted the movement of all military vessels in the docks.
He appealed for delegates to trust the members.
“We had to work hard for our strike but were surprised how up for a fight they were,” he said.
This was part of the first strike by Prospect members in the Ministry of Defence for 25 years. More are planned in the fight for an inflation-plus pay rise.
Prospect organises engineers, scientists, some managers and specialists.
Prospect’s special conference was called because of the escalating crisis in the civil service over pay, job losses and pensions.
In his opening address, Prospect president Graeme Henderson stressed that Prospect was working with PCS and other unions in defence of the public sector.
But he also said that the PCS union’s campaign was “too political”.
A key motion was passed, which called on the executive to “explore, with other public service unions, a national campaign backed by, if necessary, industrial action” to break the 2 percent pay cap imposed by Gordon Brown.
Despite this, and the good response to speeches which highlighted the need for strike action, the current Prospect strategy of fighting back sectionally was not seriously challenged.
Over the next few months it is probable that more sections of Prospect will be balloting for action.
A nationwide ballot is likely if the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (redundancy terms) is tinkered with.
The pressure on Prospect’s leadership for united action across the public sector is growing.