PCS union activists are debating the way forward after members voted to strike over pay, but didn’t quite meet the turnout threshold demanded by Tory anti-union laws.
Members of the PCS, who work in major government departments, voted by 79 percent to 21 percent for strikes over pay.
The turnout, at 48 percent, was the highest ever achieved in the history of PCS.
But it was a whisker lower than the 50 percent required under the Tories’ 2015 anti-union laws.
Civil service workers are fighting to break years of below-inflation pay rises of 1 percent—effectively a decade of pay cuts.
It means the average civil servant, on a salary of £26,000, is worse off by £2,100 a year.
Colin, a worker at the Department for Work and Pensions in Glasgow, said, “I need a wage increase to help me survive from day to day.
“By the end of the month I struggle as I have almost nothing left and sometimes have to use my credit card putting me further into debt.”
The result shows there are tens of thousands of civil service workers who want a fight over pay and who could give a lead to others.
It’s also an improvement on a national strike ballot over pay last year, which had a turnout of 42 percent.
It shouldn’t be the end of the pay campaign. The best response would be to defy the law and call action anyway.
Sections of the union that want to push ahead and strike over their pay claims should be supported.
And another national strike ballot shouldn’t be ruled out.
Whatever happens, the work done by activists to build the national campaign and strengthen union organisation can be built on.
Candy Udwin, a member of the PCS’s national executive committee, told Socialist Worker, “We were right to go for a national ballot. And we have to find ways to fight.”
She added, “We’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and we can start to address them. The key is rebuilding workplace organisation.”
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle