At its inaugural conference, the Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network has agreed to call action to coincide with European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) call for a Day of Action on 13 March 2013 whether PCS sanctions strike action or not.
The next ETUC day of action is taking place on Wednesday 13 March. The ETUC is calling for protests as the Spring European Council meets, protests should take place here against austerity and in solidarity with strikes and protests across Europe. This sets the scene as the conference brought together rank and file activists from across the country and many parts of the Civil Service.
The CSRF conference was an opportunity for delegates to meet each other for the first time and discuss the nature of the network and how it would be constituted. Fittingly, the gathering took place in Coventry.
On 18 October 2012, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude visited Coventry tax office having announced widespread attacks on civil service terms and conditions. His visit was met with a wildcat walkout of over 200 workers that had been organised on the ground, independent of the hierarchy of the PCS union.
The CSRF subsequently called a day of action for the last ETUC mobilisation on 14 November. This was the catalyst for the PCS protests on 30 November, which CSRF members were at the forefront of mobilising for.
This conference established the CSRF as a horizontal, democratic grouping which rejects established union hierarchy, structure and power relationships. It has been set up so that central government workers can take radical militant action in defence of jobs pay pensions and other terms and conditions.
A spokesperson for the CSRF said, “Our message to the government is simple: stop attacking your workforce immediately or face the consequences.
“We have noted that in your communication on trade union facility time within the civil service that you expect government workers to keep out of politics. You need to understand that as your class war continues we reserve the right to act politically and take the action necessary to defeat you. We reserve the right to be political and to defend our interests in whatever way we choose. Whatever action the workers decide to take is legitimate and we will not be deterred by your cynical use of legislation.
“The CSRF takes inspiration from the Sparks dispute last year, when rank and file members of Unite defied their own union and forced their employers in the construction industry to withdraw the threat of pay cuts and de-skilling through a campaign of wildcat action. When we take action the union must follow or risk losing the support of its members.”
The CSRF also agreed to highlight the case of a young worker, Kevin Smith, who was sacked recently by the Home Office in Liverpool after he raised a complaint about being bullied by his managers. After he raised a formal grievance, management refused mediation then colluded to stitch him up, claiming he had made a vexatious complaint. Even before his complaint had been addressed, management launched retaliatory disciplinary proceedings. This eventually saw him sacked, despite this action being totally against Home Office policy.
The CSRF sends its solidarity and has agreed to take action in support of the campaign to reinstate him, including unofficial action when his branch comes out on strike in his name.