More than a quarter of a million civil service workers could be striking in the new year against a major attack on their conditions.
The PCS union is set to launch a national strike ballot against the government’s unilateral plan to change the terms to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.
This will massively reduce the payments that civil service workers get when they lose their jobs – in preparation for the sacking of tens of thousands of them, and privatisation.
This would devastate vital public services that millions of working class people rely on.
All of the civil service unions are to launch a legal challenge to the plans.
The PCS national executive committee last week voted to ballot for action if the changes are not withdrawn and if there is no offer of serious talks between the union and the government.
This means that there is a real possibility of a national strike of its 270,000 members covered by the scheme early next year.
This would be a major battle in the war to stop workers paying for the recession.
It would be an important step for a union to stand up to a Labour government in the run-up to the general election.
Andy Reid, a PCS national executive member, told Socialist Worker, “Labour would be outdoing the Thatcherites if it pushed this through.
“The changes are a charter for job cuts. They would remove the terms that were negotiated with Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1987.
“There is an understanding among the executive that we need to ballot for action. Even if we won a legal challenge, changes would be pushed through that would reduce our members’ conditions.
“It is clear that civil service managers are clearing the decks for lots of attacks on jobs and conditions – and increased privatisation – that will take place whichever party wins the next election.
“The pre-budget report and Gordon Brown’s ‘efficiency savings’ that were announced last week have given a green light to these wreckers.
“We will need hard-hitting action of more than one day to see off these attacks.
“We will also need to make links with other trade unions in the public and private sector as they will be facing similar attacks as the recession continues.”