Today, the PCS union announced that their members had voted in favour of industrial action. These public and civil servants are the very people upon whom this Government relies to deliver its agenda.
They are taking this action, with an all-out strike on 31st January, because of job cuts and privatisation which threaten public service delivery as the National Audit Office and several Select Committees have already found. PCS members also voted to strike because of pay. Over a quarter of civil servants earn less than £15,000, and are currently threatened with a below inflation pay rise - meaning a real terms cut in wages.
Today was also the TUC lobby of Parliament, and was attended by union members from across the public sector threatened with privatisation, job losses and pension cuts. The Government is heading for a 'Spring of Discontent' in the public sector, unless we urgently change course.
That's why I'm calling for a 'Warwick 2', which should include:
- The immediate introduction of a Trade Union Freedom Bill in line with ILO standards
- The end of privatisation and the return of rail, air traffic control and other services to public ownership
- Support for free and comprehensive education, and an end to Foundation and Trust schools
- An increase in the basic state pension and immediate restoration of the earnings link, and new protection for company pension schemes
- A new Health and Safety regime with stricter powers, adequate enforcement resources and effective Corporate Manslaughter legislation
- The development of a dynamic and interventionist industrial strategy to protect and grow the UK's manufacturing industries
- A positive duty on the public and private sectors to promote equality, including mandatory pay audits to close the gender and race pay gaps