Politics & Economics

PCS backs down on industrial action as 150 staff face compulsory redundancies

26 May 2016
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By Rebecca Anderson

For years, it has been the policy of the Public and Commercial Services Union that the threat compulsory redundancies will trigger a national-wide, civil-service wide ballot for industrial action. Today the union’s leadership, dominated by the Socialist Party, asked the Annual Delegate Conference to vote against a motion reaffirming this policy and asking the union to defend 150 members in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

The motion was voted down but hundreds of delegates supported it and activists from HMRC and beyond gave impassioned speeches appealing for solidarity from their comrades. One delegate from Bootle pointed out that her branch has always supported other branches, making collections for their hardship funds and visiting their picket lines and now that it’s HMRC’s turn to need help they were asking for the previously-agreed policy to be invoked. Another speaker asked the question “have you never heard that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all?’”

The argument from the NEC and other opposing the motion was that we simply can’t have a national strike over all and any compulsory redundancies and our recent review of industrial methods showed that were are not ready to take action on this scale or achieve the new 50 per cent threshold for ballots imposed by the Trade Union Act.

Our union backing down from its commitment to draw a line at compulsory redundancies and defend all members facing that threat will give a green light to the Tory Government and Civil Service to come after more of our jobs. Especially in the context of the recent consultation on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme in which the Cabinet Office is considering whether to remove the obligation to first offer the more valuable voluntary redundancy packages.

HMRC is not the only department facing a huge round of office closures and if we are to defend jobs we need to be willing to take action. Departmental leaderships now need to be lobbied for action and the call should still go out to other members to show their solidarity and their foresight by demanding that the National Executive Committee ballot us all.

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