AWL bulletin for PCS pay dispute, 16 February 2004
Unite across departments
Form a national strike committee
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Without any doubt the magnificent response from branches up and down the country, on hearing of the suspension of strike action on 29th and 30th January, pressurised the DWP Group Executive Committee into calling the two days of strike action on 16th and 17th February.
This demonstrates the need for the active involvement of branches and members in the day-to-day running of the dispute and holding the GEC to account.
The Union has called a meeting of one delegate from each DWP branch in Leeds on Saturday 6th March to discuss the future of the campaign. It is essential that branches hold members' meetings to discuss tactics and strategies that can win this dispute. There needs to be a serious debate about escalating the action. If a dispute is not moving forwards then it is moving backwards.
From this meeting we should demand the setting up of a national strike committee, comprised of a delegate from each region, so that the membership can have democratic input into the running of the dispute. The decision to suspend action on the 29th and 30th January should not have been made without consultation with branches or reference to a democratically elected and accountable strike committee. We should also set up strike committees in the towns and cities made up of representatives from all the departments in dispute so that picketing and solidarity work can be organised.
We need to ensure that there is maximum co-ordination with other departments. It is excellent that DWP members are being joined on strike by members in the Driving Standards Agency. Pay disputes are brewing in other departments. The Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Government Offices are all moving into dispute. Members in the Office for National Statistics have rejected their pay offer by a margin of nine to one.
Many of these disputes could be easily settled simply by using departmental underspends, £100 million in the DWP. Instead the Treasury are seeking to cap increases in a crude attempt to control and suppress public sector pay. On top of this, leaked reports state that the Government will seek to fund future pay increases through cutbacks in staffing.
These disputes give us the potential to finally unite as a national union instead of a federation of departmental unions. Union membership in DWP is increasing by the day. Workers join unions when they see that they are actually doing something, like being prepared to fight low pay. If we fulfil the potential of uniting the departments we may finally see our national union start to punch its weight.
Management must be forced to honour promises made on progression. These disputes should not just be seen as unfinished business from the 2003 pay rounds but the start of the 2004 national pay campaign, where the Union plans to submit one pay claim to the treasury on behalf of all civil servants as opposed to 172 different claims across the departments and agencies. This should be seen as a springboard to an all-out assault on low pay across the civil service.
Richard Mottram (most senior boss in DWP) earns £160,000 pa. Eight people who sit on the DWP Board earn between them over £1million pa. These are the people who decided to impose the pay offer, whilst we were still balloting, which meant that after the offer was imposed a new entrant AA would earn £10,300 pa.