Last week’s PCS union conference showed that workers are still willing to fight over pensions, writes Julie Sherry
Civil service workers support more strikes over pensions if other unions strike with them.
That’s what votes showed at the PCS union’s annual conference in Brighton last week.
Delegates debated whether the union should name a June strike date or wait for other unions to agree to join the action.
Workers passed a motion committing the national executive committee (NEC) to push for a strike at the end of June.
This would be “with as many unions as possible and to take final decisions once the position of other unions becomes clear”.
Moving the motion, general secretary Mark Serwotka described the PCS as “leading the way on 30 June, 30 November and 10 May”.
But he argued that the withdrawal of other unions had affected the struggle.
“The brutal reality is when unions like Unison pull the plug, we have to deal with the consequences,” he said.
Many took the lead from this argument. But some delegates felt that if the PCS took the lead it would put pressure on other unions to get involved.
Anna Owens from Euston Tower Revenue and Customs branch described the dispute’s significance.
“We’ve seen the return of the mass strike to Britain,” she said.
“We proved that by taking action we pulled other unions behind us—we need to use the same tactic again.”
Serwotka assured delegates that the NEC would be considering two-day strikes and rolling action as part of the plan to escalate.
But he maintained, “We need to fight with other unions alongside us.”
Delegates were up for escalation. Kenny Walton told Socialist Worker, “Announcing one, two, three, four, or five days of strikes would scare the government.
“Action like that can win this dispute.”
But the NEC motion knocked off the agenda motions calling for a two-day strike and a strike even if other unions did not join in.
Delegate Tim Megone pointed out, “We don’t have a plan B if other unions don’t say they will strike in June.”
Workers across the unions must build pressure for a June strike.
The UCU lecturers’ union conference and the EIS
Scottish teachers’ union both have conferences next week.
Unite health activists are pushing for escalation.
We could see a hot autumn of resistance in Britain.
Teachers in the NUT and NASUWT unions are set to start balloting next month for a joint national strike in the autumn.
The TUC is building a national demonstration for 20 October. And a national student protest is set to take place that month too.
A June strike can keep up the momentum in the dispute and pose a real challenge to the Tories.
Unite the Resistance national conference
Saturday 23 June, 11am-4.30pm.
Bloomsbury Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP
Speakers include Mark Serwotka and John McDonnell MP