Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2109a

Mark Serwotka: ‘low paid workers shouldn’t pay for the crisis’

This article is over 13 years, 6 months old
Mark Serwotka is general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union. He spoke to Socialist Worker to give his message to those taking strike action today
Issue 2109a

‘I send my congratulations to all the public sector workers who are showing today that they are not prepared to accept pay cuts and the reductions in their living standards that go along with that.

The government should listen to the voices of the hundreds of thousands on strike today and tomorrow.

It should spend less time talking to the millionaires and more time talking to the dedicated public sector workers who provide vital services that we all rely on.

If the government is not prepared to do this, then it is the job of trade unions to maximise coordination across the public sector.

Whether people work in local government or in the civil service, we have to work and campaign together. If we stand united, we stand a much better chance of winning.

Some 1,800 PCS members in the Driving Standards Agency are striking alongside Unison members today, beginning a week of action for PCS members.

Workers in the Home Office are set to strike on Friday of this week. Staff at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are to begin 48 hours of strikes on that day too.

We will also see action short of strike by PCS members in the Land Registry and the Evaluation Office.

Members at the Identity and Passport Service are set to announce the result of their ballot this week, which could lead to three days of strike action.

The PCS is now implementing our conference decision to ballot all our members in the public sector for action over pay. All our negotiators have been instructed to recommend rejection of any pay deal that does not match the RPI rate of inflation.

This ballot will begin in September. If it is successful, our industrial action will be at a faster pace and be more hard-hitting than the action we have taken previously.

The first wave will see ten to 12 weeks of action across our membership.

This will include national action as well as weeks of action on a sector-by-sector basis – law and justice one week, education and skills the next, and so on.

We will look to coordinate this industrial action with other public sector unions to cause the maximum possible disruption.

The treasury must change its remit for civil service pay. And for that to happen, it must change its attitude to public sector workers. I am proud of the fact that all levels of the PCS – from the bottom to the top – have sought to build momentum for coordinated action.

Our activists have taken every opportunity to link up with members of other unions and to hold meetings under different umbrella groups.

When teachers and lecturers struck on 24 April, I was proud that 100,000 PCS members struck with them. This showed that our words about unity are not just rhetoric.

We have done what we can to ensure that PCS members can take action alongside Unison members and show solidarity.

And we will be in a much stronger situation to do this when we have a national mandate for action.’

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