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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 November 2008

Striking against low pay

PCS workers on strike. Mark Serwotka, (top row, third from left) joins strikers, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS workers on strike. Mark Serwotka, (top row, third from left) joins strikers, photo Paul Mattsson

On 10 November, tens of thousands of government workers will be on strike. This is the next stage of the campaign by civil service union PCS members to defend their jobs, their standard of living and the vital services that they provide.

Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive, personal capacity

Front page news has recently been dominated by the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand affair, taking the spotlight off the crisis in the world economy. But workers generally, and PCS members in particular, are continuing to feel the brunt of the credit crunch and the continual rises in living costs.

PCS members will send a message, telling the government that we will not pay for their economic crisis. If they can find the cash to bail out the banks, they can find money to fund a 5% pay rise to enable their own workforce to pay for the ever-increasing cost of living.

The hypocrisy of the government is never-ending. At a time when nearly 500 billion has been made available to prop up the banking system, Gordon Brown's pay restraint continues to eat into real wages for civil service workers - more than 25% of PCS members earn less than 16,000 a year.

At a time when the government can find money to pay their top civil servants massive bonuses, they impose pay cuts on the hard-working men and women who deliver vital services to the public. Some of our members earn only 13p above the minimum wage.

Gus O'Donnell, the head of the civil service, calls for pay restraint because of the economic crisis. Yet he draws his 260,000 wage, receives bonuses far in excess of the annual wage of many of our members and looks forward to a pension of more than 145,000 a year.

Meanwhile, government ministers are lording it, able to claim in expenses such things as a new bathroom at 6,335, a new kitchen at 20,000, a suite of furniture at 2,000 and a wardrobe costing 700. This, when many of their own workers can barely find money to pay for the bare necessities such as rent, fuel, food and clothes. What an indictment of 21st century Britain!

What's more, they import their friends from big business into highly paid civil service jobs, telling public-sector workers that private-sector methods are better.

The current economic crisis tells us what utter nonsense this is. It is now absolutely plain that these pro-big business, failed policies have blighted the lives of millions of public sector workers and the public we serve.

On 10 November, workers from job centres, tax offices, courts, the prison service, coastguards, driving and vehicle licence centres, passport office workers and many more, will stand together. We will be united, defending our right to a decently paid job and defending the services we deliver.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 4 November 2008:

Striking against low pay


US election

Obama wins, neo-cons routed in US presidential elections

George Bush's toxic legacy

If Obama wins - Looking beyond the hope bubble


Socialist Party campaigns

Labour bashes lone parents

Canary Wharf: Low paid workers welcome socialist campaigners

Sri Lanka: Acting out oppression

What recession?

Fast news


Marxist analysis: history

1918 revolution: When German workers entered the stage of history


Socialist Students

New Labour retreats on promises to students

Victory over Tory school closure plan

Austria: Socialist players suspended from football club for anti-fascist activities

Year 9 SATs abolished: Now get rid of the rest!

Republic of Ireland: Student fightback


Socialist Party workplace news

Liverpool City Council: Housing maintenance workers fight for jobs

Fighting for a socialist solution to the crisis in the car industry

Shipyard strike for fair wage

Striking for trade union rights

Turkish dockers fight workplace 'massacres'


 

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