Article from the Sept 2004 edition, Socialist Voice

Defend public services

Support civil service workers

Call a one day public sector strike


THE BLAIR government is declaring war on public services and public service workers. School students are returning to schools that are likely to be crippled by budget cuts that will mean jobs and essential services being pared back.

Gordon Brown has announced 90,000 job cuts in the civil service in Britain. If implemented, this is likely to mean a corresponding loss of jobs in the civil service here. The jobs that go will not be of the high paid mandarins at the head of the service but will be low paid workers who do the essential work of delivering services to the public.

Large parts of the public services are now being prepared for privatisation. Schools are now being sold off, more private finance schemes are being brought in to rip off the health service and, as a recently leaked letter from Secretary of State Paul Murphy admits, the water service is also being prepared for privatisation.

Part of the government strategy in implementing these measures is to take on and decisively weaken the public service unions so that they are in no position to resist privatisation.

This is why they decided to take on the Fire Brigades Union believing that they could do to them what Thatcher did to the miners. It is also why they appear to be preparing to take on the civil service unions.

But the unions are preparing for a fight back. With a determined leadership this is a fightback that can be won. The FBU responded to attempts by the government to renege on the pay deal that ended their recent dispute by balloting for strike action. It now appears that the government has been forced to back off.

The insulting 0% pay offer to civil servants here was a provocation that has left NIPSA with no alternative but to prepare for all out strike action.

NIPSA's sister union in Britain, the PCS, have similarly been left with little option but to prepare for industrial action in opposition to the savage job cuts.

Unity is strength. No group of workers should be left to fight the government alone. Instead all the struggles of the public sector unions, as well as the various campaigns against privatisation, water charges etc, should be co-ordinated.

The PCS have raised a call for a one day strike of all public sector workers. This needs to be supported by all public sector unions and a date set for the autumn. A one day strike and day of action would send a clear message to Blair - Hands off the public sector. For adequately funded public services that are democratically run. Decent pay and conditions for all public service workers.

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