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Civil Servants Begin Pay Battle
BY A massive vote of 40,615 to 2,974 civil service union PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have rejected the government's recent miserly and discriminatory pay offer.
But even before the result was published by the union on 24 November, the bosses announced that they were imposing the pay offer upon the union and its members in the DWP.
As a result, hundreds of PCS members from Glasgow and Essex spontaneously downed "tools" and walked off the job.
As Stella Dennis the union's group president for the 90,000 members in the DWP and a Socialist Party member said to the Financial Times: "It's not surprising members have reacted in the way that they have, given the contempt with which the management have treated them".
She told the socialist that: "The DWP has some of the lowest-paid employees in the public sector, some of which have to rely on benefits.
"The bully boy tactics of the department's management does nothing to stop this and the imposition of the below-inflation pay offer will see people being penalised for having a baby, caring for a loved one or for burying their dead."
She was referring here to the fact that under the offer, a discriminatory bonus scheme (in addition to the 2.6% below-inflation pay rise) means more than five days paid and unpaid leave in a year, other than annual leave, would lead to a reduction in the bonus payment.
This would penalise those taking maternity and paternity leave as well as those taking bereavement leave.
At the same time as this was happening, all 290,000 members of the PCS were being balloted by the union as part of the campaign to end sectional pay bargaining and reintroduce national pay bargaining. This is along with the campaign against the government plans to attack pension rights in the civil service.
The DWP group executive committee of the PCS is meeting on 27 November to discuss how they can use the ballot result to force the employers to pay a decent wage to their workers.
Whatever happens the mood of the workers is to fight the employers and to win a living wage once and for all.
In The Socialist 29 November 2003: