Putting demands on Labour

Firstly let’s try and head off the criticisms. We have no illusion that the Labour Party (LP) is a worker’s party; we agree that it has moved far to the right compared to the past and that if elected will continue the cuts. All that said, it’s not like the Tories or the Lib Dems; the difference of course is that it still has formal links with the unions and that it’s electoral base still remains majority working class. Therefore it is susceptible to pressure and to arguments in a way that the other major parties are not. Moreover there is a chance that the LP will be the next government. Given all this, PCS should talk to Labour and seek to win a number of policy positions. In this it can be aided by Unite.

Minimally, at least in terms of how the civil service works, we should be seeking pledges about safe guarding check-off (all affiliated LP unions, who have members in the public sector, will presumably block with us on this). Even under the Blairite formula of ‘fairness, not favours’ the LP could give us increases in facility time, the right to recruit in the work place (increasingly this is being made difficult e.g. in many areas, you cannot desk drop leaflets), making rights contractual (the right to check-off for example was made contractual for staff in what became CLG and DfT when Tony Blair was the PM), being allowed to use facilities (rooms, photocopiers etc.), allowing free speech and freedom of association within the civil service.

Of course we have to go further and argue for higher wages (LP claim rightly, that there is a standard of living crisis in the UK; that being the case, they can help solve that crisis in the public sector and areas that have been out sourced by increasing wages) and a change of economic polices. Many of our polices will of necessity bring us into conflict with a Labour government. That does not stop us, however, talking to the LP and agreeing, if we can, changed policies in advance of an election.

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