Socialist Worker

Push hard for a fight over public sector pay

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2120

The fight against New Labour’s attacks on public sector wages is entering a crucial stage.

This week sees 150,000 local government workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions in Scotland out on strike for the second time.

Over half a million civil service workers in the PCS union and teachers in the NUT union are about to ballot for strike action in November.

In contrast, in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Unison, Unite and GMB have decided to take no further industrial action and asked for binding arbitration at the Acas conciliation service.

Further education lecturers in the UCU union are to vote on what is effectively a 2.7 percent pay offer, with their union recommending acceptance.

There is a battle on between those in the union movement who believe resistance is impossible and those who believe that joint action across the public sector can win.

It is not time to watch and wait to see what happens. What activists do will make a difference.

So civil service and teacher activists need to push hard to get yes votes in their strike ballots and fight for joint strike days.

There needs to be a vibrant campaign in the UCU lecturers’ union to reject their pay offer.

Activists in health in the Unison union should demand that the three year pay deal be reopened immediately as inflation spirals upwards. Unite members should demand action against the same deal.

In local government, union members should show their opposition to the leadership crawling to Acas without even an improved offer on the table.

The TUC formally backs coordinated action. All the public sector unions have said they support coordinated action. The problem is what some of them are doing.

The TUC should call a day of action to coincide with strikes.

But this depends on union members ensuring that people are drawn into activity in the workplace to put pressure from below.

The meetings being organised under the Public Services Not Private Profit banner around the country provide one opportunity for activists to come together to discuss pushing for action.

But we have to keep up rank and file pressure to get action and fast.

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