THE BATTLE against poverty pay in the civil service is continuing. Some 90,000 workers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are set to strike for two days on 13 and 14 April. This follows a strike in February that closed down job centres, benefits offices, pension centres and the Child Support Agency.
Many activists see that the action will need escalation and a leadership strategy to beat the bosses and the government. Dave Richards is the group assistant secretary for the PCS civil servants' union in the DWP. He told Socialist Worker, 'Management's plans for an appraisal system means that there will be no pay increase for many members. A lot of members are disappointed with the delay in the strikes, but now we need to maximise support for the strikes. The union's group executive, which runs the dispute, needs a strategy, rather than lurching from one action to the next. We need a ballot for all-out action.'
Paula Walsh, a PCS DWP group executive member, says, 'We should have gone for action before Easter to keep up the momentum. People in the civil service are on poverty pay. We have people in my building who do the processing work during the day then have to work for the cleaning contractor in the evening to make up for their low pay. We should have a programme of action. We also need more guidance on the work to rule which is part of the dispute.'
The PCS is balloting members in the Department for Transport, the office of the deputy prime minister, the Highways Agency, the Government Offices for the Regions and the Office for National Statistics for strike action. Workers in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, who struck in January, are being balloted on a new offer, which many members want to reject.
PCS MEMBERS in the Driving Standards Agency were furious last week when the driving examiners' branch leaders suspended its action. Workers on both the admin and examining side of the department were angry about this unilateral decision without consultation. A number of complaints have gone in to the national union.