Article from the Oct 2004 edition, Socialist Voice
All out on 5 Nov against job cuts
CIVIL SERVANTS in Britain are preparing for a one day strike on 5 November against Gordon Brown's plans to cut 100,000 jobs in the service.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are currently balloting their members on the issue. The union has set up an anti-cuts committee made up of lay members to coordinate the campaign in the union and among the public.
An early indication of what the cuts would mean has been the threat to close 37 JobCentre and Social Security offices. PCS President Janice Godrich described these proposals as "decimation, not modernisation, of public services. These are all frontline offices which provide the services which affect all our lives, not the backroom jobs that the government said it wanted to rationalise."
A motion put by the PCS delegation to the TUC Conference calling for support for the PCS action was passed unanimously. Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary was given the longest standing ovation of the week when he moved the motion.
However verbal support is not enough. The fine words of backing from other trade union leaders must be turned into action. Underlying the PCS dispute are issues that are common to the whole public service.
The 5 November strike is not only about jobs; it is also about low pay, privatisation and the attack on public service pensions.
The PCS have raised the call for a one day strike right across the public sector. As Mark Serwotka explained in an interview with our British sister paper, The Socialist, "It seems to me that if education workers, health workers, local government workers and civil servants are facing attacks on their pensions then our response should be a united one."
Mark Serwotka has appealed to members of other unions to join the PCS in raising this call. "If other unions are prepared to consider action, then I would also want the PCS to consider a further strike in co-operation with others...that's the discussion that I want to see in every union in the branches and at the leadership level."
Members of the public service unions in Northern Ireland should take this up and should ensure that public servants here participate fully in any action that is called.