Monday, 5 August 2013

Debate! The missing question from the PCS "summer of consultation"

As members disappear for their summer holidays and/or term time breaks, the PCS union is attempting to continue its' consultation exercise over the future of the industrial action strategy that ground to a halt some time ago. Since many of the NEC members are also off at the same time its' actually difficult to see how much actual consultation is actually taking place at the moment.

Many Branches (mine included) do not hold Branch Executive Committee's during the month of August for the very reason that many Reps are not around at this time of year. Our visit from a PCS Grandee is not due until September as a result.

There has been no update on the main PCS website since July 17th which was simply a bland notification of the planned "consultation! The union tells us that:

PCS members have taken concerted industrial action for the last three months over terms and conditions, pay and jobs. Although the pace of cuts to jobs and services has slowed, the Cabinet Office still refuses to negotiate nationally with us on any of the key issues.
We are now consulting all our members about the action that we need to win a fair settlement.
Except there seems to me to be one question they are not asking, and that is simply do members actually want to continue with this dispute? 

A reasonable point given that the strikes have ground to a halt and participation by members in the various departments has declined drastically, with some registering virtually no support.

Firstly we need to remind ourselves of the three main demands raised the campaign and where we are with them:

Pension Changes: already implemented by the Government  and whether we like it or not, the campaign is already lost.

Pay Freeze: since this years Pay Awards were implemented without the union balloting there it now becomes a rather moot point, as it won't be reconsidered until next year now.

Changes to Conditions of Service: as these do not affect existing members in any problematical way, the demand in isolation from the others will not motivate people to action.

That's the reality.

With everyone struggling financially, there is clearly little mood for industrial action at the best of times, let alone when the main demands of the PCS campaign are no longer viable. 

Trouble is that a couple of minor victories in a couple of Departments have emboldened the politically motivated leadership around the Socialist Party and the SWP to attempt to translate this into a generalised strategy that is just unsustainable.

They want a 24 hour General Strike.

The danger of continuing this disastrous path can be seen in the growing number of PCS members leaving/considering leaving or joining another union.

All this nonsense about a 24 hour general strike is a distraction. The current attacks may well push us back a lot, but it will hopefully force the non-aligned reps (who in any union form the real majority “current” of opinion) need to question the underlying agenda that has led us to this dark place we currently find ourselves in.

The current campaign actually needs to come to an end.

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