We had thought by now that the union would have announced it was taking part in the one day strike that other public sector unions are calling for on 14 October. Unfortunately we won’t know until 23 September (when the NEC next meets) whether the PCS is going to be part of that action.
Matters have been delayed by the National Executive of the NUT voting not to take part in the 14 October strike. This goes to show, yet again, that no matter how ‘left’ someone talks that it is actions that count, not words. Given that the PCS leadership seemingly has no other plan to win pay increases etc other than striking with other public sector unions, then not having the NUT join in is a blow. A strike by teachers is particularly helpful as it forces scabs to take a day off work to look after their kids even though they want to come into work. So the NUT decision may have given the PCS NEC pause for thought.
Although the NUT being out is not good, other unions are still in. Therefore we expected that during the TUC congress that PCS would say it was in on the 14 October strike – but nothing happened. Now this could mean that the other unions – noticeably UNISON are having second thoughts about the strike or it may be that they are in talks with their employers; neither of these things helps us. Of course there was the Scottish referendum as well.
Every day that we wait until we announce for 14 October is a day lost in preparing members for action. Now a continuing criticism that we have of the current leadership is that it treats the members as a stage army; wheeling them on for a strike when needed and then putting them back into the box for the next time. Given this attitude, our propaganda and agitation is also only turned on when needed to motivate the stage army. Then that too is stored away for another day.
In contrast we are for consistent agitation and propaganda even when a dispute is not in sight. We believe that we have to win over the members so that when action is needed they are prepared. Moreover we want to take our cue from members and activists. A good illustration of this was when the DWP introduced its latest (even more draconian) attendance policy. Given the reaction of members and activists we could have won a strike ballot and defeated the department over the attendance policy. That was not done as it did not fit into the leadership plans/timetables as they hunted after unions such as NUT and UNISON.
So we now wait for 23 September. If the strike is on then we have wasted much time in making the announcement.