ACTIVISTS IN the civil servants' PCS union were set to meet in Leeds this Saturday to discuss their crucial battle with the government over poverty pay. Some 92,000 workers in benefits offices, job centres, pension centres and Child Support Agency centres shocked bosses when they struck magnificently for two days last month.
PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) now want more strike action to force the employers, and New Labour, to back down. The group executive committee that runs the union in the DWP is recommending that the next action that takes place is a three-day strike in Easter week. This will take place on 13 to 15 April, shutting down offices for a week. Phil Pardoe, a member of the DWP group executive committee, says, 'This is not the hard-hitting, escalating action that we need to force the government to back down.
'It is eight weeks after the last strikes and there is a big danger that we could lose the momentum of our action. I have done a number of workplace meetings in the last few weeks. The mood everywhere is for escalation. The central issue is how we win our dispute. We need escalation of the action to pile more pressure on. We need to call a programme of action, not just a three-day strike over a month away. In my office in central London members attended a meeting where 50 percent of people wanted all-out action to win. Everyone else wanted escalation. This reflects the angry mood amongst members. Saturday's meeting needs to call the quick and escalating action that can win the dispute.'
Whatever action is called at Saturday's meeting activists have to organise to make the strikes, and the continuing work to rule, as solid and as powerful as possible to win this crucial battle.
A NUMBER of other civil servants' departments are also in dispute over low pay. PCS members in six other departments are balloting for action. Prospect union members at the HSE voted by two to one to take strike action.
Administration workers in the PCS at the Driving Standards Agency in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh struck on Friday of last week. Workers at the Nottingham HQ are set to strike on Monday of next week.