With just under three weeks to go before a national ballot for strikes over civil service pay closes, activists still have plenty of work to do to deliver a strong yes vote.
Members of the PCS union in major government departments could strike for a 10 percent pay rise. This would put an end to years of below-inflation 1 percent pay rises—effectively a pay cut.
But first activists have to make sure that the ballot of members returns a vote in favour of strikes—and that it meets the 50 percent turnout threshold imposed by Tory anti-union laws.
Kate Douglas from the PCS’s Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire DWP branch told Socialist Worker what activists there have done to break the threshold.
She said they had used a combination of technology and face-to-face campaigning to contact members.
“The PCS has given reps an app to call members that lets you tick off people as you contact them,” she said.
“We give each rep two members to call up. Once they’ve encouraged those members to vote, we give them two more.”
She added, “We’ve also leafletted every office and we’ve got posters and stickers everywhere.
“It’s about keeping going—and keeping the campaign at a really high profile.”
Workers at a west London tax office were set to begin a three day strike on Wednesday of this week in a fight to save jobs.
The members of the PCS union are striking to stop their office in the borough of Ealing from closing and being relocated to east London.
The relocation would force workers to choose between commuting up to three hours a day, or taking redundancy.
Union officials fear it could mean more than 100 people would lose their jobs. One striker told Socialist Worker that many workers in the Ealing office would be unable to make the journey.
“A lot of people here are
disabled. It’s difficult for some that can’t commute for three hours every day,” she said.
“And there are people with children who have to do the school run.
“If you’re a parent you need to be near the school so if your child has an accident you can get there quickly.”
The action this week is an escalation after workers struck for a full day on Wednesday of last week and two previous-half day walkouts.
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Catering workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in central London began a three day strike on Monday.
The members of the PCS union are demanding that bosses at contractor Aramak pay them the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour.
The union is also campaigning to have the workers brought back in house to be employed directly by BEIS.