Welcome to The alternative – a regular campaign newsletter from PCS. This issue focuses on the effects of austerity, the case for the alternative, PCS success at TUC and how you can get involved in the 20 October marches.
A selection of articles are published on this page, and a PDF of the publication in full can also be downloaded from this page too.
All summer PCS Groups have been taking action against the destructive austerity policies by the coalition government that have resulted in a swathe of job cuts, office closures, pay freezes and attacks on pensions.
The latest action in a series of disputes took place on Friday 21 September with PCS members across the Department for Transport holding a one day strike against the closure of all DVLA offices in the agency.
Nationally PCS is considering more co-ordinated action over pay and pensions with other unions in the autumn, as well as spearheading the build-up for the TUC march on 20 October, 'A future that works’, that is shaping up to be the biggest anti-austerity march in history.
Expecting to top the half a million who attended the anti-cuts ‘March for the alternative’ on 26 March last year, mass demonstrations will be taking place in London, Glasgow and Belfast.
Having broadcast the need for an alternative to austerity for the past couple of years, PCS will be marching with a clear message that we need new polices to create jobs, close the tax gap and build an economy that works for ordinary people.
The march will be the latest step in the campaign to get the government to change course from its damaging programme of cuts as unions, trades councils, a huge variety of anti-austerity groups and members of the public come together.
The success of 26 March and the strike of 30 November last year, when over two million public sector workers took action to defend their pensions, gave us a glimpse of what unions can achieve and the hope is that this latest demonstration will be the springboard for the joint union action necessary to stop the cuts.
The 2012 TUC Congress in Brighton was a successful four days for PCS.
The case for dumping austerity and embracing the alternative was made by PCS in front of an enthusiastic audience at its final fringe meeting.
A panel of experts – including Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network – and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka laid out an alternative to the government’s austerity measures as part of the ‘There is an alternative’ campaign.
“We have to win the battle of ideas,” said Mark. “If you don’t convince people there is an alternative then they won’t be
prepared to fight.”
68 is too late, the campaign against the rising state pension age, was unanimously backed by congress.
Launched by PCS, Unite and the NUT the campaign has since attracted wide publicity and has expanded across the trade union movement. On the final morning at the TUC a long list of speakers took to the platform to back the motion supporting 68 is too late and determining to make this a focus of the mass demonstration on 20 October.
PCS also helped organise a fringe meeting in which a packed room heard heartfelt testimonies from people dreading the rise of the state pension age. Debbie Wilkinson, a paramedic, said: “In all my years I have never seen such a massive attack on our terms and conditions.”
A vigorous defence of the welfare state was spearheaded by PCS which proposed a motion reiterating the principles of fair and equal pay, condemning workfare polices and re-instating services necessary to supporting vulnerable groups.
“We face a government firmly in the interests of the richest 1% of society,” said PCS president, Janice Godrich. “They are taking money from the disabled, the unemployed, lone parents and those struggling to pay rent to give to the super rich.” The motion was carried.
PCS also hosted a fringe meeting outlining government plans to cut almost £30 billion from welfare.
Read more about the case against cuts in public spending
More information about the 68 is too late campaign
The PCS booklet ‘Welfare: an alternative vision’