PCS union members picket in central London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The leadership of the PCS civil service workers’ union wants a “temporary cessation” of strikes—just as the Tories are on the rocks.

The union is holding a ­consultative ballot from 3 to 31 August on the leadership’s strategy. Over 130,000 civil ­service workers have staged ­departmental strikes, and three days of national action, in their fight for a pay rise.

The Tories have offered a pay increase of 4.5 ­percent, plus 0.5 percent for the lowest paid, and a lump sum of £1,500. PCS says it “recommends a temporary cessation of industrial action, except for the small number of areas yet to commit to paying the £1500, while we engage in departmental talks on pay for 2023-24.”

The union said it “will also pause reballots”, which are required to renew a strike mandate every six months under Tory anti‑union laws.

The government’s offer is a sign that strikes have shifted the Tories, who demanded workers accept a 2 percent increase. But 4.5 percent is still a pay cut when inflation is running at 11.3 percent, using the most accurate RPI measure that includes ­housing costs.

And, the Tories were forced to offer 6.5 percent last week to millions of public sector workers in a sign of the pressure they’re under. Why should civil service workers get any less? And even 6.5 percent would still be a massive pay cut.

The BMA junior ­doctors’ union had the right response—and are keeping up their strikes. Teachers are organising against their NEU union ­leaders, who are recommending they accept the bad deal. 

Supporters of ­Socialist Worker on the PCS national executive committee (NEC) last week did not vote with the leadership. They put forward a motion that said “the increased pay offer goes nowhere near the demands of the PCS national pay claim”. 

It called for “national strike action of all those with a live mandate before the HMRC mandate runs out on 26 August”. And it said the union should “initiate the re‑ballot process in DWP, HMRC and all departments ­without a live mandate or whose ­mandate is due to end soon”.

PCS says the “ballot ­signals a new phase in our campaign for fair pay, pensions and jobs”. There does need to be a new phase in the pay fight—one that shifts the strategy to more national strikes. 

PCS members should vote no in the ballot—and demand the union escalates strikes to force the Tories to cough up.


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