Defend the PCS and all trade unions with a general strike

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THE PCS TRADE UNION last Saturday issued a statement to its members announcing that it was the victim of a government plot to destroy it, and that its very existence was at stake (see page3).

Following many thousands of redundancies it is selling its Clapham Junction head office, sacking full time officials, cancelling executive meetings and starting a campaign for union subs to be taken by direct debit off its membership.

Its statement reads: ‘The coalition government has been carrying out an ideologically-inspired onslaught on public spending and public services. The size of the civil service is being reduced by unprecedented numbers. At the same time, the Tories are attacking PCS as one of their most vocal critics in the trade union movement.

‘A number of related initiatives are taking place. In HMRC a secret union-busting plan to attack PCS has been exposed. Ministers are drastically cutting facility time for reps. But the most immediate danger comes from the moves in a number of government departments, including the largest, to end check-off. This is a politically motivated attempt to destabilise PCS finances.

‘In 2015, the combined effect of check-off removal and job cuts in the civil service will have a severe impact on the union’s finances, reducing our income by as much as £6.5 million. The government is attempting to break PCS as a union.

‘It is no exaggeration to state that our survival is at stake.’

However, the PCS leadership are ringing the alarm bells very late in the day, since its chief protagonist Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet, and boss of the Cabinet Star Chamber made it clear from day one of the Coalition, back in 2010, what he was about to impose on the trade unions.

Maude was appointed Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office on 12 May 2010, following the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition.

As Cabinet Office Minister, he is responsible for: public service efficiency and reform groups, civil service issues, industrial relations strategy in the public sector, transparency, civil contingencies, civil society and cyber-security.

In charge of the cabinet’s ‘Star Chamber’ on spending, Maude outlined plans for a vast efficiency drive, including massive redundancies in Whitehall, saying it was the best way to ultimately protect frontline public services.

He planned to unleash a new wave of public sector entrepreneurs handing over public services to them, in the guise of co-ops or mutuals.

His target, however, is not just the civil service, but the whole of the public sector including the NHS. His number one enemy is not the PCS but all of the public sector trade unions.

It is no accident that at the moment a huge volume of propaganda is being built up that the NHS, and the whole of the Welfare State should be privatised and handed over to the private sector via the cooperative or mutual ‘John Lewis’ route!

The reaction of the PCS leadership to this all-out drive to destroy the union and privatise the civil service is purely defensive, dictated by the need to save large amounts of money, and not in any way aiming to defeat the enemy.

This tactic will not halt the Tory campaign to destroy the civil service the PCS and the Welfare State, and all public sector trade unions.

The Tories encouraged by the passivity of the trade union leaders are already preparing to ban the right to strike in the public sector and the emergency services, to prepare hundreds of thousands more redundancies.

The essence of the situation is that the PCS cannot be allowed to face the coalition on its own, and the trade unions and the working class as a whole cannot allow the Tories the opportunity to smash the PCS and privatise the civil service.

At the recent TUC Congress the leadership of the unions withdrew any motions referring to a general strike in any way, giving the Tories the green light to proceed against the PCS and other unions.

Workers in the trade unions must demand that the entire trade union movement takes action to support the under-attack PCS, as the only way to defend the trade unions as a whole.

The TUC must be forced to call an indefinite general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in socialism. This is the only way forward.