Socialist Worker

Big battalions prepare to join battle with Brown and bosses

Issue No. 2102

The need for more united action to beat Gordon Brown’s pay freeze is clear to many.

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the NUT teachers’ union, told Socialist Worker, “The NUT’s campaign for fair pay has really caught the mood of members. That was clear on 24 April when we took action with colleagues from the UCU and PCS unions.

“We all know that the campaign must go forward and must involve the whole public sector.”

In every union activists are organising to build the pay campaign.

At the PCS civil service workers’ union conference in Brighton this week, delegates will discuss balloting the whole union on joining the pay revolt.

General secretary Mark Serwotka and many activists are arguing that the union should use its full strength in the pay battle and co-ordinate action with other unions.

Over 100,000 PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for Transport, the Home Office and the Land Registry took strike action on 24 April. Members in a number of other departments have also struck over pay, such as those in Ofsted on Friday of last week.

Steve West, from the PCS’s DWP group executive, said, “The DWP group conference agreed to a motion to develop and intensify our industrial action, including the use of further strikes.


“It’s important that we don’t miss our chance to take action.

“We have dubbed 1 July zero day as this is the day that 40 percent of workers in the DWP will get a 0 percent pay ‘rise’. The national union will be looking at the best dates to take action.”

Marianne Owens, of the PCS Revenue and Customs group executive, said, “We are coming to the end of our three-year pay deal and are due a pay rise in June but haven’t had any offer. People recognise that management are frightened to give us a below-inflation offer as we will fight over it.”

Meanwhile over 600,000 NHS workers in the Unison union are currently balloting over whether to accept a three-year below-inflation pay offer.

While the union nationally has not made any recommendation over whether members should accept the offer, activists in many branches are campaigning to reject it. The ballot ends on 6 June.

The Unite union has rejected the same pay deal for its 100,000 members in the NHS. Ancillary and ambulance staff came out particularly strongly against the offer in a ballot last month, rejecting it by six to one. Unite is now calling on members to build the lobby on 9 June.

Peter Allenson, Unite’s national officer, said, “This overwhelming rejection of the government’s pay offer illustrates the strength of feeling among our members.”

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Tue 20 May 2008, 18:46 BST
Issue No. 2102
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