PCS at the Trade Union Congress

 

Challenging Austerity

Congress recognises that the government’s austerity policies are making the UK economic situation worse.  Congress notes that since the coalition government came to power unemployment is higher, growth lower, and living standards are falling. Congress believes that cuts in public spending make no economic sense.  Congress condemns the government for the hardship suffered by millions of people losing their jobs, local services or receiving cuts in their pay, pensions or benefits, and for deepening inequality in our society.  Congress believes that the scale of the cuts and increased privatisation will fundamentally undermine our public services.  Congress therefore opposes all cuts to public services, jobs, pensions and pay. We support all campaigning activity for an alternative to austerity.

Congress calls on the Labour Party leadership to support our campaigns and specifically to reverse its misguided support for the government’s public sector pay policy.  Congress congratulates trade unionists on taking strike action over public sector pensions on 30 November and 10 May. Congress believes that further coordinated action is necessary to win concessions from the government.

Congress instructs the General Council to:

i prioritise building for the 20 October demonstration – to make it the largest anti-cuts protest in UK history

ii support coordinated strike action against cuts in pensions, pay and jobs this autumn

iii step up the campaign for an economic alternative based on growth, investment, redistribution of wealth and fair taxation

iv support campaigning groups taking action against cuts, including UK Uncut, Disabled People Against Cuts and the Occupy movement.

So goes one of the two motions PCS are able to submit to this year’s TUC Congress. The first thing that strikes you about the motion is the relative brevity of it compared to the 6 page epics we are used to at PCS Conference.  This is because motions from affiliates to the Congress are limited to 250 words.  Perhaps I’m not aware of the diplomatic niceties of the British Trade Union bureaucracy and that motions have to be written in such a non-committal way.  But if this is what the leadership mean by “dialogue is continuing with other unions to build for co-ordinated action over pensions and pay in the autumn” then we are in trouble.

Of course that is why IL proposed an emergency motion to the May PCS Conference, the key section of which stated that:

(PCS should) seek to build and maintain public sector trade union unity in defence of our respective pension rights whilst insisting on PCS’s right to fight as an independent union in defence of its members and without having to wait many weeks and months for other trade unions to join us in action (and of course recognising the right of other Unions to do likewise). We should seek to take action with as many unions as possible but this should not be a pre-condition for taking further action. PCS should go it alone if no other Unions are prepared to strike over this issue.

As we said at the time, to do otherwise is to leave the PCS strategy in the hands of the likes of Dave Prentis of UNISON.  What we do know is that the Higher Education are looking to ballot members on the issue of pay.  The employers have offered 1% and the Unions have stated that unless significant improvements are achieved at ACAS talks it is likely that there will be a ballot in September with action happening around the October 20 demo and to coincide with a National Union of Students protest.  PCS should get involved.

 

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