Aims & Principles

As agreed by our inaugural conference, February 2012

Aims of the Civil Service Rank & File Network

The Civil Service Rank & File Network is a platform for militant workers employed by the government to link up, share ideas and take independent direct action. Our ultimate aim is to unite all low-paid government workers and civil servants under the banner of a single union, democratically controlled from the shop floor.

Rank and file activists in the civil service need to organise around a fighting programme in order to force concessions from the Official Side. Our activities are based on direct action and our decisions are made through the participation of all our membership.

We wish to offer a different way of organising to the top-down bureaucracy of the unions and ensure that those on the front line of the government’s and employer’s attacks have direct control over their own struggles.

Statement of principles

i) Rank and file control
Unions should be organised from below and controlled by their members. Decisions should be made by mass meetings of those on the shop floor, not by officials in union offices. Those we elect to negotiate with management should have clear mandates on what is and isn’t acceptable, and be recallable if they violate those mandates.

ii) Unity between workers
Our organising efforts should seek to include all those in the workplace. This includes outsourced staff such as cleaners, security guards et al. It does not include senior management or scabs.

We reject artificial divisions between workers on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality or any criteria. Recognising that such classifications serve to build internal oppressions and hierarchies within the working class, we oppose bigotry in all its forms and agree that our Network should be a safe space for all.

iii) Direct action
We believe that workers can only improve conditions or win concessions by taking direct action. At work this means tactics such as strikes, occupations, go-slows and working-to-rule. Workers should seek to collectivise grievances and use direct action to resolve everyday problems as well as major disputes. We oppose “partnership” with the bosses and sham “consultations.”

iv) Solidarity
Solidarity with other workers is the key to victory – workers should support each others’ disputes regardless of any anti-strike laws. We need to approach other workers directly for their support, and where possible attempt to extend our struggles beyond all artificial boundaries. We seek to rebuild a culture where all workers know a picket line is not to be crossed.

v) Control of funds
Strike funds, levies and hardship funds must be placed under rank and file control. Union officials will refuse to fund unlawful solidarity action and use access to resources to keep control of the struggle from the workers involved. We need these funds to go to workers in struggle and finance industrial action – official or otherwise – and that means fighting funds independent of bureaucratic control.

vi) Politics and social change
We reject the view – cultivated by employers and unions alike – that civil service workers should be politically neutral. We reject the view that our struggles are purely economic ones and that political struggle takes place “somewhere else.”

As it is the rank and file at the front-line of implementing government policies, our struggle is an explicitly political one and we defend the right to take a political stand on every issue affecting our class. This means unity with claimants and other workers whose lives our jobs impact upon. We take no responsibility for running the capitalist state and fight for what workers need as workers.

If we are ever to be truly free, workers must challenge both capitalist exploitation and the power capitalism and the state has over us with the ultimate aim of ending both.

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