Socialist Worker

Civil Service workers

Issue No. 1930

CIVIL SERVICE workers in the PCS union want to step up the action in their dispute over 104,000 job cuts, and attacks on pensions and sick pay.

A highly successful strike on 5 November showed the level of anger and determination.

But growing numbers of union members are becoming concerned at the lack of further action planned by the national leadership.

PCS leaders are talking about holding a day of action with other public sector unions over the attacks on pensions early next year, but there doesn’t seem to be a strategy to win the dispute.

Phil Pardoe, a member of the PCS group executive committee in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said, “Ordinary members are way to the left of the national executive. People are saying, ‘When are we balloting again for more action?’ The union has to capitalise on that.

“The union is talking about not having any more action until the government reveals the job cuts in more detail. But people are being declared surplus and offices closing now.

“I doubt the government will declare any redundancies until after next year’s expected general election. We need a reballot for escalating discontinuous action nationally as soon as possible.”

Steve West, who works in Kirkcaldy where a social security office is due to close, says, “It is urgent we have some strategy for serious escalating action.

“It is not good enough to wait for something to happen through the public sector unions, which some union leaders might not want to happen in the run-up to a general election.

“The other unions are more likely to take action in support of us if we are going ahead and taking action.

“The union has called a demonstration in Dunfermline, Gordon Brown’s constituency, next Saturday, 11 December.”

Anna Owens, who works in the Inland Revenue in central London, says, “PCS London and South East Region passed a motion last week to be sent to the national executive.

“This motion calls for national discontinuous action leading to joint public sector action.”


Department for work and pensions

ONE OF Gordon Brown’s key reasons for slashing jobs in the civil service fell apart last week when the DWP IT system crashed, leaving benefits and pensions processing in chaos.

EDS, a private company, run the DWP’s network as part of a £2 billion information technology deal.

Some 80 percent of the DWP’s 100,000 desk machines were disrupted or blacked out during a routine upgrade.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said, “Yet again we are seeing thousands of hard-working staff, many of whom face the axe, trying to deliver essential services with one hand tied behind their back.”


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Sat 4 Dec 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1930
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