On 8-9 March the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) took strike action on 8-9 March over the Government’s proposals to reduce redundancy and early retirement payouts civil servants (proposals which come into force on the 1 April). The national union reports well over 100,000 members took action on each day.
As with all disputes, the numbers of members on strike varied greatly between union branches, with some reporting their best ever turnout, others a poor turnout. This variation in turn out has prompted the right wing in the PCS to ridicule the dispute; they openly question the union’s estimate of those who took action and implicitly are now calling for the action to end. Of course they offer no alternative way to fight the Goverment’s proposals. In reality are content to accept them.
An overtime ban will now operate until 6 April. To keep up the pressure the union has called for a one day strike on 24 March — budget day. The union will be holding rallies on 19 March and is still pursuing MPs to sign up to an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to open negotiations in this dispute. Over 160 MPs have already signed the EDM.
The union has said that it will continue the campaign even into the election period, though it is not sure whether this means industrial action during the run up to the election.
So far, so okay. However the union has been very poor at explaining what it wants to see happen to those members who joined after 1 June 2007 and who are on a different pension scheme from other members. Members in this lower tier only get statutory legal minimum redundancy payments. Supporters of the Independent Left grouping in the Union (which includes members of Workers’ Liberty) are arguing for full parity between all members and an end to the two-tier work force.
The union leadership are looking for a reserved rights deal — with the “privileged” members keeping what they have and those on the lower tier getting more than the statutory legal minimum, but not the same as those with reserved rights. We say all members must have the same, high, terms and conditions! The insistence on a two tier deal is a major weakness in our important dispute.