Socialist Worker

Fight back against Brown's job massacre

by Martin John PCS national executive (pc)
Issue No. 1911

MILLIONS OF public sector workers are facing a massive threat. Gordon Brown plans to axe 104,000 civil servants and clamp down on paid sick leave. This represents an attack on every worker.

Brown’s plans will devastate vital public services for the most vulnerable people in society, such as pensioners and the unemployed.

The angry response from members of the PCS civil servants’ union has strengthened support for the planned strike in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) next week.

Some 90,000 low paid workers are gearing up to strike on Thursday 29 July and Friday 30 July. The action is part of a long-running dispute over pay and discriminatory performance systems.

Brown plans to cut 40,000 jobs in the Department for Work and Pensions. He also wants to slash 16,850 jobs in the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, and another 15,000 civil servants in the Ministry of Defence.

The chancellor based his attacks on the Gershon report, a review of the whole of the public services.

All public sector workers are in the firing line, but he is targeting civil servants first because he thinks he can stereotype us as “faceless bureaucrats”.

Brown’s announcement has opened up a ridiculous bidding war by the three main parties to see who can cut the most jobs.

But the figures just don’t add up. These civil service jobs cannot be cut without hitting frontline services.

The first closures announced are two pensions centres in Liverpool and York. There are no “faceless bureaucrats” working there. Their staff have invaluable skills and they serve the public directly.

Workers at these centres successfully delivered the government’s pension credits plan. Their reward is to have the threat of redundancy hanging over them.

The Liverpool pension centre is staffed by low paid workers in one of the poorest parliamentary constituencies in England.

Brown claims he is going to transfer resources from bureaucracy to the frontline. But this is simply not true. There has been no guarantee given to the pensions centre workers that they will be redeployed.

This is a massive attack on frontline services. We are heading for a ridiculous situation where trained staff are sacked and public services are run by an army of temporary agency staff.

Many critics of the Gershon report have pointed out that it is not possible to cut so many jobs and still deliver vital services. But that hasn’t stopped the government from trying.

These cuts are part of the government’s wider attack on public sector workers.

There is no doubt that the government is gearing up to attack the final salary pension scheme in public services.

The PCS national executive is meeting this week. The union must respond with a massive campaign to defend jobs and services.

PCS union branches have called for the campaign to kick off with a one-day national strike across the civil service.

All the other public sector unions, including Unison, which sent a motion criticising the job cuts to the TUC congress, should get involved in this campaign.

The whole of the movement needs to fight back against Brown’s declaration of war on public service workers. We need to forge unity between all the major unions at the TUC congress in September.

Many of these unions fund Labour.

That has to be questioned in the run-up to a general election. It’s an insult to union members to fund a party whose main policy is to attack public sector workers.

The PCS union is planning to fight. The other civil service unions, and all public sector unions, should follow the PCS’s lead.


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Article information

Features
Sat 24 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1911
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