This article is from the July 2004 edition of Socialist Voice
Civil Service Pay
Prepare for all out action
THE MONTH of June will close with over 500 NIPSA members on selective strike action including the Office of Industrial Tribunals, Agriculture grants and subsidies, the Pensions centre and eight MOT centers. The effect of the last group alone has led to 40,000 tests cancelled.
By Paul Dale Civil Service Executive NIPSA (personal capacity)
The mood on all the picket lines has been good. The MOT strikers met to discuss how long they would stay out and confirmed they would stay out indefinitely. This group as with other selective strikers have come under veiled threats of privatisation so their stance is fully appreciated by NIPSA members.
The support among workers and the public is also strong. The media continue to run stories attacking elements of the selective action and callers to the stations continue to say the action is justified.
While the selective action is undoubtedly having an effect is it going to win the dispute? The selective action means the strikers are paid full strike pay which covers their lost wages. This has an enormous cost and cannot go on indefinitely. It also isolates the majority of members who feel the dispute has passed them by.
Most importantly on its own it won't win. As a tactic and part of escalating strike action selective action can be very important. On its own it drags out a dispute which management can then endure. Rather than bring the dispute to a short, sharp conclusion it prolongs the pain and wears down those wanting to fight.
So is the dispute winnable? We can't rule out some sort of fudged deal being offered, even around the 2004 pay claim although this is unlikely. The answer is to escalate the action to an indefinite strike by the whole membership. To achieve this, the campaign must now be invigorated with one or two protest strikes by the whole membership to rebuild the mood and prepare for all out action.
NIPSA members have had no cost of living rise for 2003. 2004 promises exactly the same and will be repeated in subsequent years. The future of Civil Service pay is at stake and NIPSA's Civil Service Executive must adopt the strategy that will win the dispute.
Other articles on the Civil Service strike can be seen here