Yesterday, March 24th, civil
servants organised in PCS staged another strike in protest at government
measures that will affect pensions, redundancy pay and jobs. It is a
sign of the growing militancy of British workers, who are reaching
the limit of what they can take. Socialist Appeal supporters in PCS
prepared a leaflet which explains the union case and points the way
forward for PCS activists. This can be downloaded here.
two-day walk out by PCS members on March 8 and 9th. All the strikes are in
protest against planned changes to the civil service compensation
scheme, which covers pensions and redundancy packages.
The government plans to tear up the accrued compensation scheme
rights agreed with the union and rob many hard-working public servants
of tens of thousands of pounds if made redundant. They put jobs under
greater threat than ever before, at a time when all the political
parties are planning massive public spending cuts. The changes also open
the way to more privatisation because it would be more attractive to
private companies seeking to make a profit, by cutting jobs.
This blatant attack by New Labour has caused a mood of blazing anger
among this section of workers, who are very poorly paid. The government
has insinuated that they are a “privileged” layer, who ought to “make
sacrifices” and accept the “same conditions as the private sector.” But
there is never any mention of the fact that their wages fall far below
those in the private sector and in fact reduce the living standards of
many civil servants to what amount to poverty levels.
This explains the firm support of the workers for militant action.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union walked out of
government offices, including the Land Registry, Passport Office, Job
Centre Plus, Magistrates Court, Crown Court, Natural England,
conservation body JNCC, the DSA, tax office and the Highways Agency –
and Parliament itself!
Peterborough regional secretary for the PCS Richard Edwards said:
“The changes will see staff robbed of up to a third of their
entitlements and lead to loyal civil and public servants losing tens of
thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job. Making it easier
and cheaper for the next government to slash civil servants will damage
services we all rely on.”
Under the leadership of left winger Mark Serwotka, the PCS is giving
an excellent example to the entire labour movement. But so far the
leaders of New Labour show no sign of giving in. Chancellor of the
Exchequer Alistair Darling is expected to announce the changes in
today’s budget, which is calculated, not to encourage working people to
vote Labour in the general election next month, but rather to soothe the
nerves of the bankers and capitalists of the City of London.
These sorry “Labour” leaders have shamefully capitulated to the
insolent demands of the bankers, handing out billions of public funds to
the wealthy crooks in the City to “save the banking [read capitalist]
system”, and are now anxious to prove to the Money Markets that they are
willing to take “tough measures” to reduce the huge deficit in public
finances caused by these massive handouts.
The same leaders who cringe and crawl before the bankers and the rich
and give them everything they ask for are now trying to show that they
are “strong and resolute” when it comes to attacking the underpaid civil
servants and the poorest sections of society who are being asked to pay
the bill for the failure of the capitalist system.
Workers are not fools. They see that the same bankers
whose corrupt and speculative practices were responsible for bringing
the banking system to its knees have not been punished but rather rewarded with
lavish handouts of public money. They also see that the same Bankers,
having calmly pocketed these billions, are now awarding themselves huge
bonuses – out of our money.
The spectacle of right wing Labour leaders constantly pandering to
the bankers and the City, rushing to grant their every wish – no matter
how monstrous – fills ordinary people with disgust and anger. The sight
of Alistair Darling appealing to the Men of Money, instead of the
working class that votes Labour is calculated to lose Labour the next
election and hand over the people of Britain to the tender mercies of
This is the historic mission of right-wing Labour leaders: carry out
the dirty work for the capitalists, who, once this has been done, will
kick them out of office and replace them with the people who really
defend their interests. If Brown and Darling have their way, history is
going to repeat itself yet again.
The only hope for a change of course is to resist every attempt to
foist the bill for the crisis of capitalism onto the shoulders of those
who can least afford to pay. Every worker, every Labour Party member,
must actively support all future actions of the PCS and other unions
that are prepared to stand up and fight for the workers’ interests.
It is time to step up the fight, not just against the bosses and the
Tories, but also against those closet Tories who, under the discredited
banner of “New Labour”, have hijacked the Labour Party, which was formed
to represent the interests of the workers in Parliament, and converted
into a vehicle for furthering their own careers at the expense of the
working class. No wonder we have had to endure the disgraceful sight of Blairite ex-ministers being filmed chasing after money from lobbying firm like "a taxi for hire." This must be what Stephen Byers, one of those who have been caught out by the TV crew trap, meant when, back in 1999, he said "The reality is that wealth creation is now more important than wealth distribution."
Enough is enough! Let us unite to fight the attacks, support workers
in struggle and force the Labour leaders to back down. Some people will
say: we must not do anything that could help the Tories. We answer: it
is the policies and conduct of the “New Labour” leaders that is
undermining the Labour Party. If we do not want to see the return of a Tory government, it is
necessary to kick out the careerists and carpet baggers and return
Labour to genuine socialist policies.