BEIS strike 22-24 September (John Moloney's column)

Submitted by AWL on 7 September, 2021 - 5:00 Author: John Moloney
Previous strike at BEIS in Whitehall

Outsourced workers at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike again, unless a deal is found, from 22-24 September, demanding pay increases and the reinstatement of annual leave entitlement.

The last day of that strike coincides with a global climate strike; that’s significant as BEIS is a key department in terms of the UK’s climate policy. We’ll make the picket line at BEIS a focus for mobilising union members across London, and will be promoting the union’s climate policies as part of that.

PCS is balloting our driving examiner members for industrial action to resist the imposition of an increased workload. The vote runs from 6-24 September. Management wants to increase the maximum number of tests carried out per day from seven to eight. We need to take action and win the dispute quickly, as days will shorten as we move towards autumn, meaning the extra tests will be carried out in darker conditions, making them less safe for both examiners and students.

There’ll also be a new ballot of our members in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea announced soon.

In Royal Parks, we’ve given the employer a 9 September deadline to respond to our demands. Members will meet in advance of that, on 8 September, to agree next steps depending on that responses. From speaking to the workers it’s clear to me that there’s a strong desire to strike again should our demands not be made.

On 14 September, I’m speaking at a fringe meeting at TUC Congress on climate change. PCS has extensive policies in favour of collective ownership of industries such as energy transmission. We’re also developed plans for repurposing the work government departments do to refocus them around meeting the challenge of the climate crisis and other social goals.

We need to ensure those plans aren’t abstract but are live documents our reps and activists can use to organise around in workplace and make demands on employers. Our members in aviation are also involved in developing a plan for transitioning their work to a zero-carbon economy.

Workers’ struggle and workers’ control need to be the key focuses; we can’t limit ourselves to appealing to the benevolence of governments and employers to protect jobs in any transition process.

Although PCS has no formal policy on it as yet, I also support the demand for social ownership of banking and finance. The links between finance and fossil fuels are clear, and social ownership of the immense wealth concentrated in that sector is necessary to fund the massive conversion and constructions projects needed to transition to a zero-carbon economy.

• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity

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