26 May 2022

PCS conference backs plans for possible strike action against cuts

Plans to fight the government’s 91,000 civil service job cuts with a concerted campaign including possible strike action were unanimously backed by PCS conference delegates.

Delegates online and in Brighton debated the emergency motion A214 on the final morning of conference (26), proposed by Martin Cavanagh on behalf of our national executive, which set out a campaign to defend members’ jobs in the face of the plans to cut 1 in 5 civil service jobs, and would include taking industrial action when appropriate.

Martin told conference: “On 12 May our members woke up to the devastating news that the government had announced its intention to destroy the livelihoods of 91,000 workers throughout the civil service without consultation with staff or unions.

“The government lauded civil servants throughout the pandemic and pledged to build back better but now we know that their claims were worthless.”

Martin said that the plans were a “further slap in the face to an already depleted workforce” which has already been hit with another real-terms pay cut which will “send thousands of our members into poverty”.

He said that it’s “absolutely clear that the civil service needs greater resource not less” and investment in areas like tax collection and infrastructure to create well-paid jobs.

“We don’t know where the cuts will fall or when, or the impact on services, so we will have to give that detail,” he said.

“We need to build a broad-based coalition to fight these cuts.”

Fighting the cuts

We have set out our stall to protect the civil service by demanding the government fully consults with union officials about its plans, vowing to fight any compulsory redundancies and any attempts to privatise or outsource jobs, and reiterating the call for investment not cuts.

Mark from R&C VOA central valuation branch who seconded the motion, said: “I grew up in the 70s and 80s under one of the worst government’s ever and I never thought I would be in a situation where there would be a government that would be more vicious than Thatcher.

“We have to get together in our branches and in our communities to challenge these cuts. I am proud to be a civil servant and this is another vicious attack on the working class.”

The motion, carried unanimously, rejected the government’s claims that the job cuts will be made in order to improve efficiency. On the contrary, cuts to a civil service that is already struggling with the increased demands caused by the pandemic and by Brexit will cause further damage to the public services PCS members deliver in addition to the already existing problems such as delays for passports and driving licences.

Prime minister Boris Johnson’s crass attempt to claim that job cuts will help to deal with the cost-of-living crisis was also condemned.

The motion also instructed our NEC to seek united campaigning with other public sector unions and the TUC to protect public services and jobs.

Take action

Want to fight job cuts and campaign for better pay? Join PCS today.

If you are a member, get active in your union. Your first step if you are able is joining the TUC march in London on 18 June to call for a real pay rise.

Complete our campaign action to email your MP – which includes a model email which you can amend with extra information in your own words if you wish.