Socialist Worker

Wednesday 24 March: turn the budget day into a day of resistance

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2193

Pickets at the British Library last week (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/» Guy Smallman )

Pickets at the British Library last week (Pic: » Guy Smallman)


Around 200,000 civil service workers will strike on the same day that chancellor Alistair Darling presents his budget to parliament.

Their strike should be a spearhead for wider protests.

Darling will use his budget speech to lay out the huge cuts to public services that Labour is planning for after the general election.

George Osborne, the Tory shadow chancellor, will denounce him for not going far enough.

The cuts have started already.

The government wants to slash civil service workers’ redundancy payments in preparation for mass job cuts and privatisation.

But PCS union members struck powerfully on Monday and Tuesday of last week against the plans.

“The PCS needs the support of other trade unionists,” said Paul McGoay, the PCS president in the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

“The cuts agenda affects everyone.

“We are not isolated. There are disputes at British Airways and Network Rail.

“It’s time for people to stand together. I’d love to see joined up action across the working class.

Protest

“People from other unions and campaigns should join our picket lines and protests.”

The PCS is planning a protest at lunchtime on budget day in the Whitehall area around parliament.

This needs to become a focus for everyone opposed to public sector cuts.

The Right to Work campaign is urging all its supporters to join picket lines and protests.

“This is a make or break dispute for the union,” said Paul. “The government is playing hardball and we have to match that.

“The mood is there for more industrial action.

“A strike and protests on budget day will have a big impact on the government and media.

“We have to keep up the momentum – the government is trying to soften us up for job cuts in the future. We have to resist together.

“News from our picket lines in the IPS was that the turn-out was even better than previous disputes.”

“We estimate that the London office only managed to produce 40 passports on the first day of the strike – it would normally produce over 500.”

The government’s propaganda is less than half of PCS members were out on strike.

“Minister Tessa Jowell claims that only 80,000 people struck, but that is false.

“They are lies, damned lies and management statistics.

“The reality is that our members are up for it and are delivering powerful strikes.”

“There was a spectacular picket line outside my office in central London,” said Anna Owens, a Revenue & Customs worker.

“New activists joined it and very few people went into work. Postal workers gave us a solidarity donation.”

“The last strike went well”, said Rachel Edwards, the PCS branch chair for communities and local government HQ.

“People who’d never struck before took action. They know that attacks on redundancies are also an attack on our jobs.

Dave Owens, a call centre worker in the Department for Work and Pensions in Liverpool, said, “The support for the strike was magnificent.

“The fact that strike breakers at an office in Carlisle had to pretend they were answer machines because of the volume of calls they were taking shows the impact we had. And it’s also very funny.

“Managers are saying the strike was better supported than previous ones.

“The strike was very solid across the whole north west of England.

“In big workplaces in Liverpool, where normally hundreds of people work, only a handful of people went in.

“We have to keep up the pressure.”

PCS members are now preparing to make their strike next Wednesday a huge demonstration of their fighting spirit and determination to fight cuts.

Anna said, “It’s the perfect day to strike. The government will be laying out their plans for the future and we will be protesting to show them that we don’t intend to pay for their crisis.

“We need the spirit of resistance to cuts that we’ve seen in Greece over here.”

The PCS has called a day of action for this Friday to raise the profile of the dispute.

Trade unionists and campaigners need to rally round civil service workers in defence of jobs and services.


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Article information

News
Tue 16 Mar 2010, 19:38 GMT
Issue No. 2193
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