PCS members in the civil service and culture sector have been at the forefront of the fight against austerity and job cuts. Socialist Appeal supporters in PCS have launched a bulletin to help organise these militant workers.
The UK civil service, employing hundreds of thousands throughout the country, is being shaken up from top to bottom by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands of civil servants continued to work throughout the lockdown, delivering key services to millions of workers across Britain: from HMRC workers administering furlough payments; to us in the DVLA, enabling key workers to be able to drive to work.
We have often risked our lives doing this. And, indeed, many PCS members and civil servants have died throughout this pandemic. No doubt many more would have too, if not for the union pushing through key policies to protect us – such as working from home where possible, and ensuring thorough risk assessments are carried out in workplaces.
Lives on the line
Management has been completely unhelpful throughout this period. They have had no plan. And because of this, in many cases, we have had to deal with enormous amounts of work, due to a backlog developing in the last few months.
Thousands of us have put our lives on the line working throughout the pandemic. And many more will work overtime to clear up this mess. And what thanks do we get? A three-year pay freeze and an onslaught on jobs!
All this whilst Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak promises top-level managers – already on inflated salaries – yet another pay rise. We say: enough is enough!
Organisation and action
The PCS has launched a petition, which demands a decent pay rise for civil servants. The membership of the union has skyrocketed nationally. My branch’s Facebook group is experiencing unseen activity and new amounts of members. Many workers see no other way out than to get organised – and rightly so.
Our union’s members have also been at the forefront of the fight against job cuts. In the culture sector, for example, PCS represents workers at the Tate galleries and the Southbank Centre, both of which have seen militant strike action recently against redundancies.
All this shows that there had never been a better time to launch PCS Marxists: a Marxist voice for PCS members and civil servants.
Building the fightback
The period ahead of us will be defined by struggle. We are facing the deepest recession in 300 years. The capitalist system is bust. And it will demand that millions of workers pay for this crisis, while the bosses get even richer.
We will fight to defend our jobs. We will fight against any unsafe return to work. And we will fight for a decent pay rise.
I’m confident that the PCS will play an important and inspiring role in this. But a fightback without clear class ideas is like a knife without a blade.
The role of PCS Marxists will be to provide radical civil servants and workers in the culture sector with the ideas and analysis needed to change society and fight for socialism.
We invite Socialist Appeal readers to follow our activities and donate to help us build this Marxist voice. Let’s build our forces and prepare to seize the future!
Preparing for the Coming Battles Ahead
PCS Marxists editorial
Welcome to the first issue of the bulletin PCS Marxists, produced by supporters of Socialist Appeal.
As members of Left Unity, we are keen to help strengthen the left within PCS, which is a bedrock of the union. Faced with a stormy period ahead industrially, the ideas of Marxism can provide an invaluable analysis in understanding the terrain and the tasks at hand.
Given the deepest crisis of capitalism in its history, Marxism has never been more relevant than it is today, especially for trade union activists. Our recent highly successful International Marxist University, with over 6,500 attendees from 115 countries, shows the growing thirst for these ideas.
We are facing an unprecedented period in Britain and internationally. The Bank of England forecast that this will be the worst crisis for 300 years, as the world economy heads for a depression.
Workers are now facing a jobs “bloodbath”, with unemployment predicted to rise to over 5 million, according to the manufacturing trade group, Make UK.
Tens of thousands have already lost their jobs in just the last few weeks. This will turn into a flood when the furlough scheme – covering the wages of more than nine million workers – comes to an end in October.
The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that unemployment will reach at least 12% by the end of the year. It is clear that millions will face the dole queue, especially young people.
On top of this, a recent analysis by the Resolution Foundation has found that UK households are seeing the largest fall in living standards since the 1970s. Despite the furlough programme propping up pay, real wages have fallen by 4.5% since the lockdown began.
So much for the ‘V-shaped’ recovery that was being touted.
British capitalism is heading directly for the rocks. The world crisis – combined with the Brexit debacle due by the end of the year – will be a double whammy.
Desperate to re-open the economy from the lockdown, the Tory government, these chancers, are prepared to risk everything. They are not interested in the danger to workers’ lives. They want everyone back to work, despite still stubbornly high transmission rates.
Britain is heading for a second wave, possibly in the winter months – the worst possible time. But Johnson hopes everything will be back to ‘normal’ by Christmas, and has downplayed the need for further measures.
The budget deficit is likely to rise to £350 billion, an eye-watering figure. With public finances collapsing, the ruling class will attempt to impose this burden onto the backs of the working class. They are preparing a massive offensive against the working class, with massive cuts, job losses and attacks on wages and conditions. This means all-out class war, posing a threat to all the gains of the past.
The Labour Party frontbench under Starmer, however, are afraid of their own shadow. The Labour leaders want to be a ‘responsible’ opposition. There is more life on a fishmonger’s slab!
Unfortunately, the left of the Labour Party failed to introduce mandatory reselection when they had the chance. Now we are paying the price for this.
Forces of Marxism
There will now be a swing to the industrial front. All hell is going to break loose, as the crisis impacts on ordinary working people. Class struggle will be on the order of the day, as consciousness is transformed on the basis of these events.
This will demand decisive leadership. This cannot be “business as usual”. The choice is clear: either we bow down before the attacks of capitalism; or we fight to get rid of it. There is no middle road.
What we have entered is a new world depression, worse than in the 1930s. This dog-eat-dog system of big business has reached its limits. A return to the ‘good old days’ is ruled out.
We say: to hell with this system of capitalist ruin, which only offers permanent crises for working people. It is time the trade union leaders got off their knees and mobilised workers to put an end to this rotten system once and for all.
That means the adoption of a bold socialist programme to take over the giant corporations and banks, under workers’ control and management, and plan the economy in the interests of working people.
Marxism has a key role to play in this struggle. We appeal to you to help us build the forces of Marxism in PCS and the wider labour movement.