civil servants strike on budget day

Striking civil servants have set up pickets in Westminster to embarrass the Government on Budget Day. Steve Ryan reports.

Despite the excellent support for the two day PCS strike on 8th-9th March, it seems the government are refusing to negotiate on the changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

As such the union’s National Executive have called a further one day strike on 24th March – Budget Day. Continue reading “civil servants strike on budget day”

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mass turnout on pcs civil service pickets

by Steve Ryan

Despite the usual bosses’ claims to the contrary the PCS two day strike looks to have been solid and successful.

Offices were closed services disrupted all over the UK. Significant also was the size of the picket lines, full of ordinary workers not just the usual activists. This clearly unsettled the bosses as many lines were challenged – with no success! The mood was very determined and angry. Continue reading “mass turnout on pcs civil service pickets”

all out in pcs!

by Steve Ryan

Readers of The Commune may be aware that PCS members have voted to take action over the threats to the Civil Service Compensation scheme. This in essence means that 250,000 public sector workers will be out on strike on 8th and 9th March.

The strike is hugely important. The issue is about making it cheaper to sack civil servants. Whilst it is always unacceptable to sack workers, the relentless purge of the public sector makes no sense at all in a recession, with services suffering billions uncollected in tax. Indeed even the London Evening Standard ran an article on public sector pensions, pointing out how low they were and that any attempt to reduce them would simply mean an increase in benefit claims and hence no saving to the exchequer. Continue reading “all out in pcs!”

pcs to ballot for strike action

by Steve Ryan

The PCS civil service union is to commence a ballot of all 300,000 plus members for strike action. The ballot is due to begin on 4th February.

It comes after talks on the governments proposals to cut the value of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) proved fruitless. Continue reading “pcs to ballot for strike action”

pcs in hm revenue and customs redundancies

by Steve Ryan

Workers in 130 offices throughout the UK reacted with anger and dismay yesterday as the closure of their offices was confirmed.

The decision will affect nearly 3000 workers, some half of them being offered voluntary redundancy. Compulsory redundancy looms for those who will not, or cannot, go voluntarily. Others will be transferred to other more “strategic” offices, facing long journeys to work and vastly increased travel costs.  Continue reading “pcs in hm revenue and customs redundancies”

government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left

by Steve Ryan

The PCS civil service union faces yet another massive challenge.

pcs

The government have signalled the intention to alter the Civil Service Compensation Scheme  (CSCS) as it is apparently “too generous “. The effect would be dramatic, halving redundancy payments for example.

The union is getting ready for massive consultation exercise with members, No doubt industrial action will be necessary. Continue reading “government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left”

civil service pay dispute – defeat or victory?

by Steve Ryan, Wrexham PCS

Public and Commercial Services union members were surprised at the sudden calling off of the planned strike on 10th November. The strike was pulled at the very last minute on the Friday before the 10th, leaving activists frantically trying to contact members. The National Executive Committee claimed the cancellation was due to a “major breakthrough” in the dispute.

Surprise turned to bafflement and in many areas anger when the “breakthrough” turned out to be a letter from O’Donnell – head of the civil service – rather than the hard cash members were expecting!

The NEC claim the letter is significant in that it confirms there is no 2% cap in pay negotiations and allows for efficiency savings to be “recycled” into pay. No other union has been given this concession. NEC were also adamant that the campaign continues , that there will be further talks and that action will not be ruled out if the letter proves to be a con.

The early signs are not good. A close examination of the letter shows that the 2% will only NOT apply in very special circumstances. No claim settled or imposed for 2008 is to be reopened. It also appear to bind the PCS to tacit acceptance of the efficiencies. It is unclear where the efficiencies to be released for pay will come from. NEC claim that reducing use of consultants would go some way towards this but as pay negotiations are still delegated many departments will be offering savings made from job losses and office closures-totally unacceptable for any union let alone a “left” union like PCS.

The first big test was in HMRC, where there is an unsettled dispute. Straight away the letter failed as pay offer for 2008 was quietly imposed, without any protest from the Group executive. Again there are promises of open talks for 2009/10 . Members however cannot pay the bills on promises!

Indeed the HMRC experience indicates that the campaign may be a defeat. Members expected action or a significant pay increase – in the event they have neither. This has led to further anger with the union.

The key will be whether  the dispute is allowed to wither away. Activists must now pressure the NEC to ensure that

> There are no further below inflation settlements -flat rate rises for those who lose by % rises

> That all departments open the books to members to identify the savings

> No savings from job losses to be used for pay -instead mount a national campaign against job losses and actualisation

> End performance related pay

> Progressions to rate for the job to be paid separately as elsewhere in the public sector

These demands would need to be backed up by coordinated and innovative industrial action beyond the one day strikes – members’ confidence will also need to be rebuilt.

Politically there also needs to be an open and frank debate about where the allegedly most left wing union in the TUC is heading. The preparatory ground for a Rank and File is already there.