Activists in the PCS civil service workers’ union are mobilising to ensure that there is the biggest possible yes vote in the ballot of 270,000 members over below-inflation pay.
Tens of thousands of PCS members in a number of departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), 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 all the departments affected by the government’s assault on its own workers.
A strike of the whole civil service, alongside other public sector unions if possible, will increase the pressure on the government.
Andy Reid, of the PCS executive, told Socialist Worker, “The argument that we should have joint action with other unions makes sense to members. The union is planning a targeted programme of action with things going on in some department each week.
“We are out to tell the government that the issue of public sector pay is not going away.”
A recent sign of the mood in the civil service was the 83 percent vote by PCS members in Revenue & Customs to reject their pay deal. They also voted by 81 percent to support industrial action.
Marianne Owens, of the PCS Revenue & Customs group executive, spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. She said, “PCS reps have spent the last two months speaking at meetings across the department to win this good result.
“In the meetings people were asking if they could go out on strike immediately.
“People are really angry about the changes that are being made to the workforce and the programme of office closures. Our pay issue has now been tied into the national dispute.”
Steve West, a PCS rep who works for the Child Support Agency in Kirkcaldy, said, “The union has organised meetings in almost every office in the local area. We are confident that we will win the ballot, though not complacent.
“Meetings have been organised across Scotland. When people saw the local government workers striking in Scotland last week they asked why weren’t we out with them. People are angry about a number of issues as well as pay, including attacks on our working conditions.”
Dave Owens of the PCS DWP group executive said, “I did a number of meetings about the ballot the union held over protocols in the summer.
“These were big meetings of around 100 people, and while they discussed the protocols issue the main debate was around pay.”
The ballot runs until 17 October.
Over 600 PCS members at the Acas conciliation service struck for an hour from 10.30am on Friday of last week over pay.