Socialist Worker

Back their fight

THE NEW Labour government has declared war on its own workers in order to drive through mass sackings, slash pension rights and force millions of people to work harder for less.

Issue No. 1912

The battle by civil service workers and their union, PCS, to resist these attacks is vital for every worker in Britain, particularly the millions employed in the public sector.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told Socialist Worker, “We are calling on the whole of the trade union movement to give solidarity.

“The government wants to sack over 100,000 civil service workers. It won’t stop there. It wants similar ‘efficiency savings’ across the public sector.

“There are other reasons why this is not just a battle for the PCS union.

“These job losses will devastate services that millions of people rely on.

“Access to pensions, tax credits, disability benefits and more besides will be hit.

“Instead of face to face contact with a benefits worker, people are to be offered a call centre number.

“Where this has been piloted it has already led to waits of five hours to sort out a query.

“And with the number of support staff slashed, more people are going to be told over the phone that they are simply going to have to wait until the paperwork gets sorted out.

“Second, the government is ripping up the pensions scheme that covers 500,000 civil service workers, reducing benefits and raising the retirement age by five years.

“It has already published plans to do the same in education and across the public sector. On that issue alone every trade unionist should stand together.

“Third, there is the move to make it harder for workers to take time off when they are sick, just at the time that studies report an epidemic of workplace-related stress.

“Fourth, there is the scale of the job losses. We have been told ministers believe they will have to make compulsory redundancies to hit their arbitrary target for cutting jobs.

“That sends a signal to employers across the whole economy, where workers already fear job insecurity.

“And those who will be left after the mass job losses will still be on low pay, but will have to work harder to make up for their sacked colleagues and face the threat of further privatisation.

“Finally, this is about defeating a major union which has been firmly part of the revival of trade unionism in Britain. If they get away with that, it will undermine every union.

“Civil service workers are in the front line of attacks that every public sector worker is going to face.

“That’s why my union is not only prepared to resist those attacks itself, but is calling on the TUC to coordinate action among other unions.

“There’s no point waiting to be picked off or responding piecemeal to attacks we are all facing. We should stand together and act together.”


  • Work an extra five years or lose pension entitlement

  • It’s stage one in New Labour’s plans to slash jobs across the public sector

  • We’ll lose face to face advice and get call centres and endless waits to claim benefits

  • Forced to work when you’re sick—SLAVE charter on the way for millions of workers

  • Ministers want to BREAK a major, growing trade union…


    If New Labour gets away with this, it’ll be after you NEXT…


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    Article information

    Features
    Sat 31 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1912
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