Left Unity led NEC calls all members strike – time to drive home our advantage

Birmingham border force strikers with FBU support

The Left Unity National Executive have declared an all member strike on Wednesday 1st February for all members with a live mandate following November’s ballot result.

The decision was taken following detailed discussion with other unions about the prospect of significant co-ordinated action in that date. While mass co-ordination isn’t possible at this stage, the TUC have called a day of protest against the Government’s latest attacks on workers rights to strike on the 1st, and there is an expectation that other unions will be taking action alongside PCS with possibly over half a million public sector workers on strike on that day.

Strategy can win

The call for national action follows the hugely successful targeted action that has already taken place across a number or areas of DfT, Home Office, DWP and EFRA in recent weeks.

The strategy pushed by Left Unity, and overwhelmingly supported at our conference in December, is to maximise the amount of action members take for the duration of our mandate, while minimising the financial sacrifice of members.

The current mandate is the strongest we have had in years, and we have every reason to be confident we can win our demands on pay, pensions, job security and attacks to our redundancy terms, with the right industrial strategy. It is crucial that we use that mandate to maximum effect, and our ability to take thousands of members out continually between now and May, while supplementing that action with all member national action when it is right to do so, can deliver that effective strategy.

Crucial we build

The 1st February action involving all members, will see the first step in escalation beyond the targeted areas that have already taken action, and will be kept under review in the weeks ahead. The action is in line with the commitment we gave to members that we would prioritise targeted, paid strike action, while building national action in co-ordination with other unions. The aim is to deliver the hardest hitting action we can to bring the government back round the negotiating table, and it will need to be escalated over a period of time, in the absence any signs of an early settlement to the dispute.

Vital we build the fighting fund

A key element of our action, in the midst of the greatest cost of living crisis workers have faced in decades, is the union’s ability to offer strike pay to members taking targeted action. It should be remembered that when the union asks members to take such action, they are striking, not only for themselves, but for all of us. It is vital, therefore, for that action to be sustainable over the lifetime of the mandate, and so must be paid. We obviously cannot expect members to have a disproportionate loss of pay, and so the levy that will kick in from 1st February is critical.

It is disappointing that some activists have publicly opposed the levy and actively agitated with members against it, some calling for it to be voluntary. Left Unity are clear that the guarantee of sufficient funds to continue paying members who strike for all of us, is integral to the success of our strategy, and cannot be delivered through voluntary donations. At the same time the ask for members to pay either £3 or £5 a month aims to minimise the cost to all members, while delivering sufficient funds to sustain our targeted action. The total cost for members between February and May will be either £12 or £20, depending whether you earn £24,000 or less.

When explained to members, our experience is that they understand the importance of the levy and why the amounts have been set as they are.

A dispute we can win – a dispute we must win

The current cost of living and threat to thousands of our members jobs, were key in delivering the most successful ballot result PCS have had in decades.

The impact of systemic low pay across the Civil Service and related areas, is having a devastating impact on our members and their families, and is driving their determination to win this dispute.

The Left Unity led strategy of paid targeted action, funded from the strike fund and topped up by the levy, supplemented by national all member action, possibly in co-ordination with other unions, gives us the best chance of winning.

Let’s all work together to make the 1st February a huge success and, with the ongoing targeted action, make this action something the Tories can simply not ignore.