Socialist Worker

PCS conference: Fighting for pay and justice

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2153

The PCS civil service workers’ union conference in Brighton last week passed a raft of progressive policies committing the union to fighting against government attacks, and showing solidarity with other groups.

One of the major debates was over the issue of pay. The union leadership called off a planned national strike last November after getting talks with the employer. Socialist Worker supporters on the executive voted against calling off the strike.

An agreement was reached that meant that “efficiency savings” could be used to improve civil service workers’ pay.

But the union leadership last week accepted that the agreement had failed as no workers have seen any improvement in their pay because of it.

Conference voted that the union should consult its members over the summer over what national action they can take to win better pay. The union is also consulting members in a number of departments, including Revenue & Customs, over pay.

Activists will be pushing for action to win over the issue.

The PCS has been at the forefront of campaigning politically with its Make Your Vote Count initiative.

The conference voted to step up the fight to stop the fascist British National Party making gains because of the economic crisis.

More than 300 people crammed into a fringe meeting on Tuesday of last week to launch left wing general secretary Mark Serwotka’s campaign to win re-election. The election takes place later this year.

Delegates gave Hana Joma of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions a standing ovation after she gave a moving account of the struggles of the Palestinian people to survive under Israeli oppression.

The conference then voted to “support calls for consumer boycott of Israeli goods”.

The PCS is now affiliated to the United Campaign Against Police Violence (UCAPV), which was formed after the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests last month, after an overwhelming vote at conference.

Andy Lawson from north London said, “A huge attack on our democratic right to protest is taking place. Thirty years since the death of Blair Peach, 25 years since the police attacked the miners and 20 years since the Hillsborough Disaster we have seen no justice and little has changed.

“UCAPV gives us a chance to oppose all deaths in custody.”

A delegate from Scotland said, “Until four years ago I was a serving officer in Strathclyde police force.

“In my 30 years in the police I saw the use of the minimum amount of force needed exceeded on many occasions, never more so than in the Miners’ Strike.

“Miners had to defend themselves from the violent thuggery of officers. What happened at London demonstrations showed that the use of violence by police is unacceptable. I wholeheartedly support this motion.”

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