The PCS civil service workers’ union is set to begin balloting its 270,000 members in civil service departments from Wednesday of next week for a national strike over pay.
This is a major step forward for the pay revolt. Tens of thousands of PCS members in a number of departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Transport and the Home Office, have already struck this year against below-inflation pay offers.
But the national ballot will draw in everyone affected by the government’s assault on its own workers, and increase the strength of the union’s action.
The PCS has been one of the unions at the forefront of campaigning for joint public sector action against the pay curbs.
A successful ballot result opens up the prospect of a major day of action across the unions that could increase the pressure on Gordon Brown’s weak government.
Andy Reid, of the PCS national executive, told Socialist Worker, “Workers in more and more departments are receiving unacceptable pay offers, and rejecting them. So there is anger at not being able to make ends meet across the civil service.
“The ballot is a real opportunity to forge co-ordinated action with our fellow public sector workers to defeat the government’s attempt to impose unacceptable pay on us.
“PCS reps and activists need to ensure that there is a big yes vote in the ballot. They should be talking to the members about the importance of voting and organising workplace and local meetings to get the arguments across to them.
“They should also be making links with other public sector unions in dispute, sending speakers to their meetings and inviting them to ours.
“A yes vote can transform the situation the public sector unions are in, with the possibility of a TUC day of action and strikes involving millions.”
The ballot runs until 17 October. The PCS plans a national strike followed by a series of actions in different departments each week to cause the maximum possible disruption and to win.