Socialist Worker

PCS to ballot 250,000 workers for action to stop Tory attacks

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2339

PCS union members on a TUC march against the Tories in March 2011  (Pic: Smallman )

PCS union members on a TUC march against the Tories in March 2011 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Ballot papers will land on the doormats of quarter of a million civil service workers this week.

Their PCS union is renewing its campaign of industrial action against government attacks.

There is much at stake.

PCS members spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity about the ballot. Kate Douglas works at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Oxford.

“The government wants to introduce less sick pay, cuts to leave entitlement and new grievance procedures that they haven’t even published yet,” she said.

“If we don’t fight these cuts there will be more to come. Now is the time to fight, now is the time to vote yes for strikes.”

Martin Rickman works for the DWP in Sheffield.

He said the union “is on the front line of government attacks”.

“People feel like they’re being singled out,” he told Socialist Worker. “There is a sense of anger.”

Martin explained that the attacks have a wider impact.

“In the job centres they’re cutting back on jobs and hours,” he said.

“Those staff who are left have a huge workload. And people have to wait longer for their benefits to be processed.”

The ballot opens on Friday and closes on 4 March. Workers are already preparing to build the yes vote.


Marianne Owens works for the DWP in Cardiff. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to get the vote out,” she said.

“There are 2,500 union members in the building I work in. We’ll leaflet people as they come into work and hold car park meetings.”

Martin is also planning workplace meetings. “I also go round and speak to people individually,” he added.

“I’ve very blunt with people when it comes to the argument about why to strike.

“I say, either you stand up now, or the government will come back for more.

“I always have union membership forms on me for when new people want to get involved.”

Workers want a clear strategy from their union leaders.

Marianne said, “People here know that we can’t wait around for the other unions when the attacks are coming thick and fast.

“Workers everywhere need to put pressure on their union bureaucracies. We need pressure from the bottom up for action.”

Martin said that a one-day strike would have to be the start of a bigger campaign against the cuts.

But he said that he was prepared for a long fight.

“I’ve been in long disputes before,” he said.

“All my family were miners and I was a steel worker. I stood on those picket lines every day for a year.

“Thatcher singled out the miners like Cameron is trying to single out us now.

“I take it as a compliment.”

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Article information

Tue 5 Feb 2013, 17:08 GMT
Issue No. 2339
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