Article from the Sept 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
Civil Service Dispute
all out to win!
THE CIVIL Service pay dispute has reached a critical stage. The government is offering no pay increase for 2003 and only a miserable increase for 2004. NIPSA have rejected this and are recommending that members vote for an all out indefinite strike.
By Paul Dale, Civil Service Executive Committee NIPSA (personal capacity)
Despite the results of the selective action - 100,000 MOT test cancellations and over £20m grants not paid to farmers- New Labour ministers, Murphy and Pearson, maintain that 2003 pay talks will not be reopened. They imposed a so called offer that paid civil servants only their increment which they had been promised under the 2002 pay agreement. Workers on the top of their scale got no pay increase and there was no consideration of the union's claims for dealing with low pay and equal pay.
NIPSA entered discussions on 2004 pay only on the basis that 2003 pay would also be addressed. The Government position has been disgraceful. A 12 month offer included a 1/4% cost of living rise for 2004 and nothing for 2003! An alternative 16 month offer has squeezed 2% cost of living for April 2004 to August 2005 and still nothing for 2003.
New Labour's spin doctors are already twisting the facts, telling the public that the offer is worth 4 1/2%! Civil servants are not fooled. They know exactly what the offer is worth and how they have fallen behind other workers.
The one day strikes, the walkouts and the selective action have all been widely supported. NIPSA members have answered the union call every time. The union is now embarking on a three week branch consultation urging members to reject the 12 and 16 month offers. The Executive Committee, with Socialist Party and Time for Change members prominent, are calling on members to vote for indefinite all out strike.
The branch meetings will be crucial and Time for Change must ensure their voice is heard in all these meetings. Socialist Party members will argue strongly for a vote to reject these pittances of offers. Members need to hear the case for action properly explained so that they understand the need for all out action.
This dispute is already one of the most important in N. Ireland for the last 20 years.
To win it, there must be a real escalation to all out action - for as long as it takes.
NIPSA President, Carmel Gates, urges members to back "all out" call
"It is vital that every worker in the civil service votes 'yes' for strike action. This is not a battle we chose to fight but it is one we must win. The government have offered the lowest paid worker a rise of just 18p an hour. That's not just unfair it's immoral. Ministers have reneged on our previous pay deal and want to destroy our terms and conditions. If we don't fight now, we will have to fight sooner or later.
This year it's our pay. Next year it could be our jobs. None of us can afford to strike but none of us can afford not to."