If the union doesn’t change the demands and tactics in the current dispute then we will not win. The Independent (IL) believes that there is the material basis for a sustained dispute (for example the TUC calculates that workers have had the biggest pay squeeze since the 1870s) but we cannot run a sustained dispute if wecontinue on the same track. The summer ‘consultation’ period gives us a chance to introduce specific demands around the campaign and to suggest more innovative industrial action tactics. In short we need to re-launch the national campaign.
Therefore, we say, PCS must:
- Drop the slogan ‘they won’t talk, so we must walk’. After all, if the government did talk but made no concessions then presumably we would not ‘walk’. Replace the slogan with concrete demands over pay, jobs and pensions;
- Add the demand for national and equal pay to our pay claim. In our experience showing the huge difference in pay between AAs, AOs, EOs etc across the different departments more readily mobilises members for a fight on pay than just demanding 5% or £1000;
- Campaign for pay progression for all. In the case of AAs, AOs and possibly EOs, we should be arguing for spot rates i.e. one pay rate for the job;
- Make equality a central part of our campaign. Year after year, ethnic minorities, staff with disabilities, part timer, lower grade staff etc get the worse box markings (which of course is linked to pay) and treatment. Yet there is nothing about this in union literature despite there being a wealth of data showing this inequality. Gather this data together on a civil service wide basis and start a real campaign over fairness;
- Have a proper campaign on jobs; we should be lodging staffing claims in departments such as the DWP;
- Start a levy amongst members;
- Draw up realistic plans for selective and partial (i.e. half day) actions;
- Put demands on unions such as the NUT to have a real alliance over pay (not only the level, but pay progression) jobs and pensions. By ‘real’ we mean that a joint programme of months of action is drawn up well in advance of the first strike action. We must not have PCS taking action whenever NUT just happens to strike.
Now the above does not guarantee victory but we have a better chance of winning if we clarify the demands and strategy of the campaign.