PCS members once again demonstrated their support for the union’s campaign strategy by supporting the public sector strike on July 10, demanding an end to the pay freeze and a settlement that goes some way to make up for the drop in the value of civil service pay. If civil service pay had kept pace with inflation it would be £2300 higher than it is now. This more than justifies the reasonable PCS demand for a rise of £1200 or 5%, whatever is the higher.
PCS has consistently argued the best way to defeat the pay freeze and to defeat austerity is through joint coordinated industrial action across the public sector. The tremendous potential strength of our movement was demonstrate in the pensions dispute a few years ago but that opportunity was squandered when the TUC and some public sector union leaders surrendered pensions rights for a settlement on the government terms. This surrender had profound implications not only for those public sector workers who saw their pensions rights stolen but for the working class generally as it gave Cameron and Osborne the green light to go implement their austerity programme without the trade union movement organising action to stop the.
Since the pensions dispute the battle against cuts, privatisation and the pay freeze has at best been fragmented. PCS however has continued the fight principally at group level winning concessions across the board, including stopping major privatisations like that of Land Registry.
The Democracy Alliance national executive committee has based it’s strategy on conference policy, the fullest possible consultation with members and activists and with the departmental groups. The attacks on the public sector stem from the same source and that is why the union has always argued joint coordinated action is the best and most effective way to win. Important as joint coordinated action can be in challenging the government it must be the basis for achieving settlements that deliver results for all public sector workers, including, of course, PCS members.
The joint coordinated action across the public sector must be part of an integrated campaign with the launch of a fighting fund based on a voluntary levy, coordinated action across the departmental groups accompanied by targeted action designed to have a real impact on management’s operations.
Further coordinated action should organised in full discussions with the public sector unions and the detail of that action should be commonly agreed, not just announced by any one or group of unions and with commonly defined aims around the pay freeze and other demands around fair pensions and ending privatisation.
Building for the TUC demonstration in October and STUC demonstrations in October should be a priority for PCS and Left Unity activists. Left Unity groups in the regions, towns and cities are urged to hold meetings after the summer break to discuss the campaign and to build an effective fightback in the civil service, commercial sector, the pulic sector and across wider society.