Socialist Worker supporters in the PCS civil service workers’ union met last Saturday to discuss the framework of the proposed pensions deal agreed between the TUC and the New Labour government.
The meeting agreed that even though there is a guarantee for current workers around the pension age of 60, the deal has conceded that future generations of public sector workers will have the age raised to 65.
This will create a two-tier workforce and make the normal pension age difficult to defend for current workers in the coming years. The framework has also potentially left local government workers in the lurch.
Fourteen PCS members spoke in a debate that lasted for around an hour and a half. Many spoke of the way that there was a growing mood among members, and across the unions, against the deal.
Unfortunately, Sue Bond and Martin John, the two Socialist Workers Party (SWP) members on the PCS civil service workers’ union national executive, had voted to support the framework at a recent meeting of the executive.
This was despite a meeting with the SWP industrial organiser and another leading SWP member in the PCS where it was made clear that they should vote against the deal.
Sue Bond, who is a PCS vice-president, has since admitted she was wrong to vote for the deal, apologised to the party and has made a commitment that she will not break party discipline again.
Prior to last Saturday’s meeting Martin John had decided to resign from the SWP. At a recent meeting of the SWP party council, a delegate body for representatives of every branch across the country, a number of delegates condemned their decision to vote for the framework.
Members were angry that party representatives on a union executive had voted against party policy, breaking discipline, and had voted for a deal which lets down future generations of workers.
Last weekend’s meeting for PCS members voted to reaffirm its support of the SWP’s position over the pensions deal. It also voted to censure Sue Bond and Martin John.
Members also made it clear that they wanted to continue to work with left wing general secretary Mark Serwotka in the fight to build the union and improve the lives of members across Britain. Honest debate over issues is not a barrier to this — it is essential.
The new issue of Civil Unrest, the rank and file paper for the civil service, is out now price 20p. It leads on the pensions deal. To order copies e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org