On Friday, PCS Union, which represents workers in the civil service, published the results of a survey of candidates in the Scottish, Welsh and local elections, in which they were asked their position on the issues in which the union are currently in dispute with the government.
Based on the 423 responses received, ‘79% of Labour candidates…support the union's campaign against the UK government's programme of cutting 100,000 civil and public servants'. 76% support the union's call for a national pay talks and a fair pay system and 72 % ‘shared the union's concerns' over privatisation.
Unsurprisingly, amongst Tories the percentages were much lower with only 21 % against job cuts, 16 % against privatisation and 28 % for a fair pay system. One way of reading this is that most of the Tories support the government's policies even if it is not their party that is in power ! This is a parlous state of affairs but is not surprising given that big business interests are in control of the Labour Party.
So should we sit around wringing our hands? Or go off in a huff and form a new party?
The responses show that rank-and-file Labour activists are in opposition to New Labour. Ok, so they want our votes and sensing the mood, knowing that their answers are being made public they are more likely to give us the ‘right' answer. But whatever their motivations – and there will be a lot of honest Labour people out there, it give us an opportunity to hold them to account if they end up in charge of local services. And it shows how out of touch the Blair government are. In the words of John McDonnell they are ‘sleepwalking towards electoral defeat'.
The ‘Make Your Vote Count' survey has been a groundbreaking initiative but the main plank of our campaign has to be industrial action. Having pulled out over 200,000 members in the strike on 31 January, PCS are preparing another massive stoppage on 1 May. The campaign has placed sufficient pressure on the TUC to issue a letter to local Trades Councils calling for May Day activities in defence of workers across the public sector. Inspired by PCS' firm stance, the fightback is beginning in other unions, with teachers calling for action against the 2 % cap on pay deals and NHS workers also discussing action.
Rank-and-file Trade Unionists need to keep up the pressure on their leaderships at levels to ensure that the unions fight to protect their jobs, pay and working conditions and oppose privatisation. If your representatives are not fighting hard for you, ask them why not? If you don't like their answer replace them!
The Labour Party was formed 100 years ago by the Trade Unions to give working people a voice in parliament. With 10 years of cuts and handouts to the rich there is no doubt that many are wondering whether it is still ‘fit for purpose'.
If the leaders of Unison, Amicus, T & G and GMB were to openly oppose New Labour the Party could be reclaimed for working people overnight. So why don't they? Members of those unions are starting to ask questions of their leaders, perhaps it is time to replace them.
 Questions were:
1. The government has proposed to cut over 100,000 civil and public service jobs. They claim these cuts will not impact service delivery to the public. But every day our members are seeing how less staff means a lesser service to the public. Where do you stand on cutting civil and public service jobs?
2. PCS is concerned that the government has privatised more of the civil service since 1997 than the Conservative government did in 18 years. These privatisations are costly and unnecessary, and are jeopardising services being delivered to the public, often the most vulnerable in society. Where do you stand on privatising public services?
3. PCS is campaigning for a national civil service pay framework, rather then the current arrangement of over 200 separate pay negotiations. Do you support PCS's campaign for greater pay coherence in the civil service?
 See previous article at: http://www.socialist.net/civil-servants-pcs-strike-may-day.htm