24 May 2022

Unions bulwark against this cruel government, Mark Serwotka tells conference

Trade unions are now the bulwark against this cruel government and a vehicle for social justice, our general secretary Mark Serwotka told conference today as he presented the union’s annual report. 

In the 961 days since he last addressed delegates in Brighton, said the union has achieved significant wins against the Tory government for its members. 

Now, we are facing a perfect storm of cuts to jobs, living standards and conditions, and it must unite to fight back against government attacks. 

He said: “Our movement, if we get it right, is the vehicle for change.”

Delivered critical services

During the Covid pandemic, he said PCS members were critical up and down the country in giving people the frontline services they desperately needed. 

He said: “Their reward is a huge cost-of-living crisis, cuts to redundancy rights and a third being told they are no longer required.”

He cited Jacob Rees-Mogg’s “childish” notes left in Whitehall as an example of how the government was trying to paint members working from home as lazy, when in fact they have been working full pelt during the pandemic. 

Mark highlighted notable successes over the last year, including supporting Home Office staff in legally opposing a policy to push-back refugee boats in the English Channel, industrial action in the private sector including BAES, Royal Parks, Atos and Fujitsu, and in the public sector, including halting plans to force driving examiners to conduct 8 tests a day. 

The months ahead will require even more resolve and preparing members for strike action - possibly on a national scale.

He said: “The question is not whether we take industrial action, but how quickly we take that action. 

“The average wage in the civil service is under £23,000. Some of our working members are forced to claim universal credit. Members are facing a cost-of-living crisis and things will get worse.”

He added: “Let’s have the debates, let’s get back, let’s organise and let’s win.”