Defence of jobs and services tops conference agenda

13 May 2010

How trade unions respond to the cuts expected in the coming months will top the agenda at what will be the first UK union conference after the formation of the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition government.

Delegates at PCS's conference in Brighton next week will have the first opportunity of any of the major unions to discuss the implications for jobs, pay, pensions and public services.

They will also outline the next steps in the campaign to defend their redundancy terms in light of the union’s dramatic victory in the High Court earlier this week, where a judge ruled that cuts attempted by the previous government were unlawful.

Delegates will be asked to back a motion endorsing a “new major national campaign in defence of civil and public services”, including in workplaces, communities and politically. The motion includes “a major public call for joint action amongst public sector unions against the threat of spending cuts”.

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The national campaign would also include campaigning for a fairer and better-resourced tax system as an alternative to public spending cuts, as well as working with the TUC to help co-ordinate activities between public sector unions.

A motion about the civil service compensation scheme, which governs the terms in the event of redundancy and early retirement, welcomes the High Court ruling and lays out how the union should proceed in light of it. Steps include negotiating a new scheme that protects existing members’ rights while acknowledging that further industrial action would be considered if the new government failed to meet its legal obligations.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The Lib Dems went into the election campaign saying that Tory plans for a further £6 billion of public spending cuts this year, on top of what was already in train under the previous government, would be damaging to the economy. Unlike the Lib Dems, we are still opposed to these cuts and we will do everything we can to help co-ordinate opposition among other public sector unions.

"Our conference will provide the first opportunity for representatives of a major trade union to come together to discuss and analyse the outcome of the election and what it is likely to mean for our members. We will be calling for the public sector unions to unite against what we fear will be devastating cuts in public spending.

“We will go into the conference with a major win in the High Court under our belts and we expect the new government to obey the law, respond positively and enter into negotiations at the earliest opportunity. This will be the first big test of how it treats its own workforce - union members who have shown they are not prepared to sit back and watch their terms and conditions being ripped up, and their jobs and public services cut."


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