The Public and Commercial Services Union has today (6 March) announced a programme of sustained industrial action beginning with a strike on budget day. The Civil Service Rank & File Network welcomes this move and urges civil servants to keep the union at its word.
In the announcement on the PCS website, general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is not a one-day protest, this is the start of a rolling programme of walkouts and disruptive action to put pressure on a government that is refusing to talk to us.”
Such a strategy of ongoing disruptive action is something that militants in the union have long argued for, and a stance that the CSRF quickly adopted following its formation in October. This is in contrast to official action over pensions taking the form of one day protest strikes, followed by months of inactivity.
Responding to the decision, the CSRF national secretary said: “We are faced with an extremely hostile government, determined to attack us on all fronts. It’s about time that PCS is talking seriously about causing significant disruption to their operations.
“However, we have heard this before and it is easy to be cynical. Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, we would urge civil servants who care about their jobs, pay, pensions and working rights to make sure it doesn’t. Support the strike action and build for the largest possible turnouts on picket lines – but also be prepared to take the lead if the union goes back on its word.
“A week before the budget day strike, on 13 March CSRF is calling on civil servants to take part in the European day of action against austerity. This presents the perfect opportunity not only to build towards strike action, but to discuss with fellow workers how best to maintain pressure on both the government and the union.”
The Civil Service Rank & File Network was formed following a walkout in response to Francis Maude’s visit to a HMRC office in Coventry on 18 October 2012.
At its inaugural conference, the Network agreed to a strategy of punctuating official industrial action with rank and file activity. It also agreed to call further days of action to put pressure on PCS if the union is seen to be delaying action.