NATIONAL LEADERS of over 90,000 civil servants in the PCS union met this week but postponed calling further action in the long-running pay dispute. The union will meet with management on Tuesday of next week. If there is no movement union leaders could call new strikes at a meeting on Thursday of next week.
The employer came up with a pay offer last year that was linked to performance and inadequate to deal with the massive problems of low pay people face in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In a ballot over 90 percent of members rejected management's offer. A majority then voted for strike action.
Over 90,000 people struck for two days in both February and April. Since we started our action it has become clear that management want a new system that is entirely based on the pay appraisal Performance Development Scheme.
Management have suspended union members who have refused to carry out the new appraisal system. Members have walked out in response to this in Glasgow, Irvine, Morecambe, Scarborough, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester and London. The New Labour government is backing up and directing the employer. We need to direct more of our anger at the government. And we need to escalate our dispute in such a way that it puts the government under such pressure that they can't ignore it.
THE CONFERENCE of the Prospect civil servants' union, which happens every two years, was taking place as Socialist Worker went to press. The conference was overshadowed by Gordon Brown's plan to massacre 40,000 jobs and the plan to force civil servants to retire at 65-five years later than expected.
Prospect vice-president Graeme Henderson summed up the mood: "Prospect will do whatever it takes to defend our members' jobs and conditions." Delegates voted for industrial action if necessary to return to national pay bargaining. The TUC demo on 19 June in defence of pensions is being heavily backed.