Socialist Worker

Thousands of workers will take on New Labour

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2191

Hundreds of thousands of civil service workers are set to walk out on Monday and Tuesday.

This is the first major battle against the government’s cuts programme. Every trade unionist needs to throw their support behind the strikers.

PCS union members voted by 63 percent to take action. They are opposing New Labour’s plan for cuts in the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, which covers payouts to staff who are made redundant.

The government wants to prepare the way for massive job cuts and the sell off of services. It has provoked huge anger among workers.

“Job security is the big concern,” says Andy Lawson, organiser of the union’s Department for Work and Pensions north London branch. “Changing the compensation scheme will make job cuts and privatisation more likely.

“This is a key fight for every trade unionist. It is about the future of public services.

The government has the civil service and education in its sights.

“But whoever forms the government after the next election will attack the public sector. They will slash the services that the most vulnerable people in society need.

“The PCS needs to win.”

“Each worker in my department brings in around £600,000,” says Marianne Owens, a Revenue & Customs worker and vice‑chair of PCS Wales.

“But the rich can avoid paying tax because there are not enough staff to do the job.

“Now the government wants to make us cheaper to get rid of.

“This will also open up the civil service to privatisation.

“PCS members are angry and disappointed with the government. It says that it will save £500 million by cutting the compensation scheme.

“But if it put that money into staff we could close the tax gap and fund our services properly.”

The PCS has made a good start by moving beyond a one-day strike. Two further strike days are planned.

It will need to increase the pressure on the government in the run-up to the general election.


Some handy facts about the “gold plated” civil service

More than 100,000 civil service workers are paid less than £15,000 a year.

The average pension is £6,500 a year, which drops to just £4,200 once high earners are excluded.

Almost 100,000 civil service jobs have been axed in the last five years.

Over 40,000 civil service pensioners get less than £1,000 a year. That’s under £20 a week.


Message from Mark Serwotka

“The government wants to tear up civil and public servants’ rights to fair redundancy pay in order to make job cuts on the cheap.

“This will damage the services we all rely on.

“At the same time the government tells us that bankers must be paid multi‑million pound bonuses.

“I urge everyone to support our action.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union

Join the PCS national demonstration, 11.30am, Tuesday 9 March, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Lambeth Road, London SE1 and regional protests on Monday 8 March.


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