Socialist Worker

Civil service workers vote for strike ballot

by Matthew Cookson, at PCS conference in Brighton
Issue No. 2252

Delegates to the PCS civil service workers' union today (Wednesday) sent a defiant message to the government by voting almost unanimously to launch a strike ballot.

Only two people voted against. There were loud cheers in the conference centre after the vote was taken.

The union will now ballot 270,000 members, with activists mobilising to win the biggest yes vote on the biggest turn out.

Workers aim to coordinate their strike over pensions, pay, job cuts and in defence of public services with members of education unions on 30 June.

This is set to be a day of rage against the Tories' attacks.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, told the conference, 'The scale of the attacks we face is breathtaking in its scale and savage in its conception.

'This government wants the rich to get off scot free while working people pay the price.

'The pensions attack is extraordinary. It is the biggest single attack on public sector workers. George Osborne wants us to retire at 68, triple workers' pension contributions and close final salary schemes.

'Even some of the unions who are most reluctant to take action told the government in a meeting last week that there is nothing left to negotiate about.

'We face a challenge. Will we be the generation that fought back, proud to fight for every job, community, worker and condition?

'Let's get to work to defeat this government's brutal agenda.'

A number of delegates spoke in an angry debate on an emergency motion in defence of workers' rights and public services.

Fran Heathcote, of DWP Northumbria, said, 'This is a battle for our communities and families. We need to build for widespread action.

'30 June is not just a protest. It is the first major shot in a campaign that could see millions of workers take action in Autumn. We need to take action to stop these barbaric cuts.'

Robbie Fowles, of the DFES, said, 'We cannot wait until the Autumn until we strike as the cuts are happening now. We are seeing shock and awe economics.

'I marched alongside NUT members at fantastic demo on 26 March. It is correct that we strike together next.'

Delegates also passed a motion calling on the PCS to raise the idea of a general strike at the TUC general council, and to coordinate industrial action across the unions, in defence of public services.

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Article information

Wed 18 May 2011, 10:51 BST
Issue No. 2252
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