Britain: PCS preparing for 20 March strike

… and more action after

PCS members are preparing to launch our union’s national industrial action campaign with a one-day strike on Budget Day, 20 March, when Chancellor Osborne will be announcing more cuts in the civil service and also on workers generally.

PCS members are aware of the scale of the attacks – job cuts, pay freezes, attacks on terms and conditions and trade union facilities, all of this to prepare the way for the mass privatisation of the civil service.

Our campaign will be effective and sustainable with the aim of causing maximum disruption to the employer to get them around the negotiating table.

It’s unreasonable that they’re not prepared to sit down and discuss the issues with us, preferring instead to press ahead with these unwarranted attacks.

PCS members are prepared to struggle and the government is wrong if it thinks it can attack us without determined resistance.

There will be a one-day strike on 20 March and a further half-day strike on 5 April which marks the end of the 2012/13 tax year – this walkout will begin a week of tax justice campaigning to highlight the £120 billion tax ’gap’.

Added impetus for the dispute will come from the announcement that all 281 tax enquiry offices in the country could close under new plans by the government, including 13 to be closed this year in the North of England.

Also, from 1 April, PCS members will have extra pension contributions imposed on them, while from the same date, millionaires are being given a tax cut.

PCS on the 30 June 2012 public sector strike supported by the NUT and UCU, photo Socialist Party

Fighting austerity

On 20 March there will be rallies in cities up and down the country, where there will be speakers from other trade unions and campaign groups like Disabled People Against the Cuts and Black Triangle.

We want to make sure people know that yes, it’s a strike against the attacks on our terms and conditions, our pay etc but it is also a strike against austerity and the failed programme of the government.

PCS particularly welcomes other unions’ involvement. For example we welcome the strike of Unite and PCS members in the Homes and Communities Agency who have coordinated their strike for budget day.

As our general secretary Mark Serwotka told the pre-budget TUC rally: "We hope our strike action is successful but we’re quite clear, our union is right to take action, but we all know if more of us take action together we have a better chance of winning …

"On 26 June George Osborne will do another significant thing. He will announce his comprehensive spending review which will confirm the butchery of public spending for the next three years.

What a brilliant day that would be – that while he announces cuts in parliament – to see as many people as we can taking industrial action together, demonstrating together and protesting together. If we build that movement then we can turn our aspirations into reality."

Weekly meetings

Starting off as a one-day strike on 20 March and an overtime ban from 21 March, the union’s national disputes committee will meet weekly. We will be calling further action at short notice.

We will implement work-to-rules throughout government departments. We will keep up the pressure on the employer until they are prepared to talk to us.

We will also be making sure that government ministers and senior managers get a warm PCS reception when they come to visit civil service offices.

For example on 13 March at a Ministry of Justice building in London, Cabinet Office minister Frances Maude didn’t go through the front door.

He was driven around the back in his Jag with the blacked-out windows because there were 40 PCS members demonstrating outside.

He’s going to have to get used to that because we’re going to keep it up until he talks to us.

The union’s departmental groups are looking at what action to call as well. There will be days of action with themes like equality, welfare, taxation and so on.

We’re determined to keep the pressure up until the government is prepared to talk to us. Over the course of the past six months we’ve managed to win concessions in disputes within departmental groups.

The slogan: "Campaigning works, action gets results" is true. We’ll be making sure that we build the action until they’re prepared to talk to us.

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March 2013