28 February 2013
In a significant move on Tuesday, the country’s biggest PCS branch voted unanimously to support the call for a general strike. Benton Park View PCS in Newcastle represents nearly 4500 civil servants in HM Revenue & Customs, a department suffering heavily from job losses and attempts at privatisation. The motion welcomed the decision taken at last year’s TUC Congress to look into the practicalities of organising a general strike, and calls on the TUC to now turn its words into action and organise the general strike as soon as practically possible.
The vote comes at a time when PCS is balloting its quarter of a million members on taking strike action over attacks on pay and conditions, which could see a national strike at the end of March, and with it the potential of revitalising the possibility of co-ordinated action against the crippling austerity policies of the Tory-led government.
As the effects of austerity really start to bite, with the slashing of council budgets and the closure of locals services; imposed pay freezes and below inflation rises; the privatisation of our NHS and the dismantling of the welfare state, alongside increased scapegoating of the unemployed and immigrants, it’s necessary now more than ever to bring the spirit of Greece and Egypt to the streets and workplaces of Britain. Many workers were furious that while a co-ordinated general strike took place across Europe in November last year, the response of the British TUC was to write a strongly-worded letter of opposition to the government. The potential of the 2.5 million strong strike of 2011 has not dissipated – at every available opportunity workers have consistently voted for strike action and shown they are up for a fight; the task now is to put pressure on the union leaders to deliver the strike action needed to effectively resist austerity – passing this motion is a significant step on that road.