Not just one-off actions
To win: an ongoing strategy with selective strikes
It is to be welcomed that a number of Groups within PCS are on strike alongside the Teachers (NUT) and Lecturers (UCU).
We are all suffering from the same pay squeeze policy initiated by New Labour; we are all suffering from the effects of inflation; to varying degrees we are threatened by encroachment of the private sector into our work areas; in other words we are bound together by common material interests. The problem though is that only part of the PCS is on strike even though the problems listed above e.g the pay squeeze, effect the entire union.
Our strike will make the news and will undoubtedly worry the powers that be; how much better if the whole of the PCS union was on strike.
Of course it does not stop there. Where are Unison, GMB etc. All the problems listed above effect them as well in the public sector. Gordon Brown has a united and consistent policy towards public sector pay and employment yet the Union movement does not.
The AWL believes that this must change; in the unions we are agitating for unity around our common material interests. Whilst on the picket line it is obvious that we should all be sticking together that view is not so clear from the Union HQs; especially for those unions that are affiliated to New Labour. They are torn between doing their job in defending members and their political calculations as to the effect of a pay fight in the public sector on New Labour's popularity.
A Union's key function is to defend and promote the interests of its members regardless of its effect on New Labour. Whilst in PCS we do not have that problem of worrying of a Union/party link we are still not doing enough to push our pay fight. At national conference, which will happen shortly, supporters of the AWL have put forward motions calling on all the Union to fight; not just a few Groups. These motions not only say we must fight (the reason for which we hope is obvious) we have something to say about the way we fight.
One day or indeed two day strike now and then are not the most effective manner of taking action. We are in favour of the maximum national action that members will follow but in addition we want selective action where key workers are taken out for short periods to disrupt the work of the employer in between national action. We should not allow them a period to recover.
Where we can, we must work with other Unions; our ideal being all public sector action. Even if that is not possible then PCS must work with those few unions who do want to fight. Even if no other Union is willing to take action PCS has to.
Unions working together is more than general secretaries gathering in a room and deciding our fate. The AWL believes that activists locally must come together. Whist still weak in many areas, local trade councils offer a ready made vehicle for such co-operation.
So let’s make the most of the 24th but we have to plan for the next round.
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