THE TWO-DAY strike of 98,000 workers in job centres and benefits offices at the end of last month was the best supported yet.
The London Region of the PCS union in that section of the civil service (DWP) last week voted unanimously to call on the group executive committee to call for a strike during the Labour Party conference in September.
It also asked Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, to call a national demonstration at the conference alongside other trade unionists.
This kind of action is absolutely necessary.
It’s clear that we are facing a generalised political attack from the government.
It is chancellor Gordon Brown, minister Andrew Smith and their cronies who are responsible for slashing jobs, pushing poverty wages, closing offices, and attacking sick pay and pension rights.
We need to take our argument to the heart of the beast. What better situation is there than the Labour Party conference?
If during Gordon Brown’s keynote speech, with all the publicity it generates, there were thousands of striking civil service workers and other public sector workers demonstrating outside, it would shock New Labour.
The entire 300,000-strong membership of the PCS will be balloting in September over the 104,000 job cuts and the attack on sickness pay that Gordon Brown announced last month.
That will be for a one-day strike in October to launch the campaign.
There are currently pay talks going on with management covering job centre and benefits workers.
There was a suggestion at the start of this week that the group executive meeting set for this Friday should be postponed pending the outcome of these talks. That would be an error.
The group executive should not be giving the employer any breathing space.
It should be organising to build for a strike in September, backing the London Region’s proposal, and booking trains and coaches to get civil servants to the Labour conference.
That would ensure that the Labour conference would be one to make Blair and Brown squirm.