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Angry Workers Vote For Action
"I had taken the day off on leave on budget day. But when I heard the news of the cuts I felt I had to come into work and contact other union activists.
Mick Philipsz, PCS, Department for Education and Skills
We had been expecting fairly severe cuts already but the figure we were given, 1,400 (31% of staff) was twice what we had been led to believe.
The day after the announcement, the union held its annual general meeting - its biggest ever. Union members snatched the leaflets I handed out to promote the meeting.
One staff member near to tears, said: "I have been working myself to near exhaustion for the last year and this is how they repay us. They are a bunch of tossers".
He expressed the anger that most people feel. My department has one of the highest levels of long- term sick leave due to stress and anxiety from overwork. Many members work late into the evenings and at weekends.
Vacancies in teams have not been filled and colleagues have had to fill in for absences without financial recompense.
There is also anger at talk of cutting back on 'waste'. My department, like many others has been subjected to many reviews and efficiency drives already. The real 'waste' is the millions of pounds spent on management consultants within the department.
Incredibly, recruitment of these consultants is continuing in the middle of the cuts exercise. This reflects the Treasury's wish to transform the department into little better than a small and unaccountable think-thank.
Our union annual general meeting unanimously backed a motion supporting industrial action if necessary to defeat the cuts.
It also backed a motion for national conference calling for the setting up of a political fund and for that fund to be used to finance alternative candidates and parties in elections, whose policies correspond with those of the PCS.
PCS Prepares The Fightback
AS THE Socialist went to press, the PCS national executive committee was discussing a resolution to be put to the union's national conference in June.
The resolution says:
"It is clear that the announcement and the singling out of the civil service was more to do with politics and the 2005 general election. We regret people playing politics with the lives of our members and the vital work that civil servants perform".
It expresses disgust at
"the cheap attempts by politicians of all parties to see who can cut the highest number of civil service jobs" and rejects "simplistic attempts... to divide civil servants in 'front-line' and 'back-room' staff".
The motion opposes arbitrary job cuts, privatisation and cutbacks in public access to public services. It commits the union to a membership awareness campaign on the government plans and the Gershon and Lyons reviews; to co-operate with other like-minded public-sector unions and the TUC to defend public services and jobs; to launch a public campaign including community groups, pensioners and other interested organisations to defend public services and to use all means at its disposal to defend members' interests and the services members provide to the public.
In The Socialist 27 March 2004:
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