January 2020, a New Year, a new round of weekly strikes in our Campaign to Save Ealing Tax office

What a journey it has been !
By the end of this week (31st Jan 2020)  we will have been on strike for 10 days since early 2019. None of our action would  have been possible without the unshakable solidarity and bravery of the Ealing Strikers who chose to stand up to the vicious office closures imposed on them .
We want to save our jobs and we are worth it.  In the Debt management teams some of the poorest paid in the Civil Service barely earning above minimal wage, 68% of the workers face redundancy and unemployment. This is replicated across all the teams in International House marking the end of the road for many of us including myself.
As a carer I cannot regularly make the 4 hour round trip to our new office in Stratford – many members like me have overwhelming personal circumstances, disabilities or simply a desire to have a daily work – life balance.
We have been betrayed by our employer.
In 2005 we had 596 offices up and down the UK, less than 2% will remain at the end of the HMRC Building our Future office closure program. As shocking as the personal betrayal of loyal workers, is the fact that HMRC is ignoring the tax risk of leaving North West London. Fraudsters and tax evaders must be rubbing their hands in glee as we exit the area. Within a few months, 4000 years of tax expertise and training will be thrown away when we lose our jobs.
Whatever the outcome of action, Ealing PCS members can feel very proud that we made a stand. We beat a union busting 50% ballot threshold twice and our picket lines and rallies are legendary. Spirits are high as we enter our 3 days of action. We remain strong in our dispute despite the clock ticking down on the closure of International House Ealing.
Please support our fight by spreading the word, organising bucket collections to support the strikers, by following us on social media #saveealingtaxoffice and inviting us to speak at your AGM’s .
Lydia Ndoinjeh PCS R&C London North Branch Chair

No to War in Iran

On Saturday thousands of people marched around the country in protest at Trump’ attack on Iran and the threat of war.

PCS members participated in a number of events.

PCS President Fran Heathcote spoke at the protest in Newcastle. She said:

“I am bringing solidarity greetings from my union, PCS

I want to take a minute to thanks Tony and the organisers, thank them on behalf of trade unions for their dedication and for organising this and so many other successful events in the north east at short notice (most of them have a day job as well, sterling effort)

The assassination of Iranian general Quassem Soleimani on 3 January was a reckless, irresponsible and probably illegal act…….

It is part of a dangerous macho game played by Donald Trump and his followers, much more about macho posturing and prestige than genuine defensive action

And was also designed to garner patriotic support for his Presidency and direct attention away from his own impeachment

There is no evidence as Donald Trump suggests that Soleimani and Iran were planning an attack on the United States,  or on.four US embassies, including the one in Baghdad.

His justification for the attack has alarming similarities to the arguments used to justify war in Iraq – Saddam Hussain’s so-called weapons of mass destruction – that turned out to be a lie and led to a conflict which claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, thousands of US and UK troops and fed the growth of the Islamic State

President Trump appears to be acting unilaterally in escalating tension in the middle east, with little consultation with his own government or western so-called allies

Importantly, there was no consultation prior to the assassination on 3 January with his new key ally Boris Johnson, which tells you all you need to know about the ongoing partnership between Britain and the United States after Brexit

All the attack has succeeded in doing is uniting millions in Iraq and Iran against the US and it’s allies

Comrades, I believe that trade unionists and the labour movement have a responsibility to oppose any further imperialist interventions in the Middle East

There has never been any evidence that war does anything other than destabilise the region

Making it more dangerous for millions of innocent children, men and women who pay for these war games with their lives

We must re-state our opposition to western intervention in Iran and the Middle East, and call for an end to US aggression and a de-escalation of the threat of further war

We must continue to put pressure on our own government, with rallies like this up and down the country, to state clearly that there will be no support from the UK for any further irresponsible acts of war in Iran, in Iraq or elsewhere

Once again, solidarity to all involved today.”

Austin Harney spoke for the NEC at the London demonstration:

“On behalf of PCS, I would like to send greetings of solidarity to all the people of Iran and to condemn the US threat of military invasion on one of the most important countries in the Middle East.

Recently, last year, PCS has, always, supported the Trade Union strikes for better wages and the women’s struggle for liberation in Iran. We will continue to support the Iranian people’s efforts for a better way of life in Iran under their current government.

But we will not tolerate the American government’s intention to interfere in Iran and impose their perception of “regime change” under Donald Trump! Previously, the United States adopted this policy of “regime change” under George W. Bush on the people of Iraq and plunged this country into turmoil.

By continuing to rise up on the streets with demonstrations, we will not allow the United States to impose “regime change” on the people of Iran! Previously, millions of us demonstrated on the streets in Britain and America, and we were pivotal in pressuring the American government to withdraw its troops from Vietnam in 1973!

Let us continue to organise these demonstrations and force the United States to pull out of the Middle East, once and for all! Solidarity!”

A message from Democracy Alliance President – Fran Heathcote

PCS members have faced numerous attacks on their jobs, pay and working conditions over the last decade and before. Whatever your views on Brexit, one thing is clear, whatever ‘promises’ the Tories made to workers before the election, their majority in parliament will be used to further the agenda of their friends in big business and the city.

Already we see signs that the pre-election promises are being reneged on. Their promise, for example, that no one would be forced to sell their home to pay for social care has been relegated to ‘a belief’. We have seen the beginning of an offensive against trade unions by threats to ban industrial action on public transport, which has echoes of Margaret Thatcher’s ban on trade unions at GCHQ. And it is looking more likely that their so-called ban on Fracking was just an election ploy.

Of course it is likely that the Tories’ first set of policy announcements will contain some sweeteners coming immediately after the election. But the Tory big backers and donors will sit patiently as they know that Johnson has 5 years to repay them.

It is inevitable that this repayment must, and will, include attacks on our public sector workers and services. Therefore our priority is to use this time to prepare our defence, to strengthen our organisation, increase membership and build our branches to be the strongest that we can.

It is important that comrades have a well-earned rest over the festive period because it is clear that in the New Year we will face some massive challenges.

Our PCS campaign will include the three main strands:

Pay, where the Tories have clearly not budgeted to lift the 1% cap anytime soon.

Pensions, where our members are currently overpaying by 2% every month. The government has already stated that, following the brilliant FBU victory this week stating that over 6,000 firefighters are entitled to return to pre-2015 pension schemes and PCS will be quick to make our representations to Cabinet Office about the implications for our members’ schemes.

Civil Service Compensation Scheme, where the Cabinet Office previous confirmed that the 2010 terms would remain in place until at least 31 December 2019, our campaign has defended these terms since 2016 with hundreds of millions paid to workers covered by the scheme, but now, with an emboldened Tory government re-elected, it is clear that they could move to attempt to introduce detrimental terms.

On all three issues, we clearly need to prepare the ground for the battles ahead. Improved technology and use of the new branch app which have helped to deliver successful recent ballot results in HMRC Ealing and ATOS are important in delivering results and engaging our members over the issues that lie ahead.

Crucial to delivering the aims of our national campaign is a strong, effective, united leadership. I am honoured to be the Democracy Alliance candidate for President, leading a team of experienced, principled socialists and trade union activists. We have lead PCS through some difficult times and never hesitated to support members in the campaigns that matter to them.

That is why I am so pleased that Mark Serwotka was overwhelmingly re-elected as your General Secretary. I have worked closely with Mark, as President, for the last year and his commitment to PCS members in both the public, and private sector, is unwavering.

As we face, undoubtedly, difficult challenges ahead, PCS needs a united, focused and experienced national leadership with a strong, fighting left organisation – Left Unity, determined to defend both our members at work and the public services that we are proud to deliver. So, on behalf of the Left Unity National Committee, thank you for all of your hard work to get our candidates elected throughout the year and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Click here to download flyer

Why we in PCS stand in solidarity with the RMT

Katie Leslie, BEIS group activist

On Thursday lunchtime myself and other PCS members across Whitehall joined together to stand in solidarity with rail workers, who are the first in the crosshairs of this rabidly right wing government. As a largely white upper class Tory Government enjoy the gravy train in Parliament, they were announcing some of the most draconic anti trade union laws. Trade unionists have fought and died for our rights, and we will need to continue fighting against these attacks and for an actual right to strike.

The Queen’s speech contained a new Bill that would curtail the fundamental freedom for rail workers to withdraw their labour. A last resort that workers only ever use in despair at rogue employers. Over the years the RMT in particular have irked the rich, who think they have some right to punch their way onto a tube to get to work every day to make millions while not giving a hoot about the rail workers. Strikes are a minor disruption to our lives that undoubtedly have saved lives over the years. If, like me, you have stood waiting for a tube in rush hour, and watched as people push and shove in the most dangerous manner, while a patient but firm platform worker keeps them safe and ensures we don’t all have to see their brains splattered across the platform, you will know how important our rail workers are. Whether they are the drivers, the ticket office or the platform first responders. This was even more acute for Londoners on 7/7 when it was rail workers who were the first responders, saving lives.

But apparently the fact they deign to keep us safe and fight for good working conditions and pay is far too much for this government. They are now seeking to take away the fundamental right to strike from them. This is the next step in the last 40 years of trade union attacks, which already places us bottom of European countries in the worldwide rankings, and heading lower as most other countries are striving to improve their standing. How much longer will it take for us to be ranked alongside Colombia – the most dangerous place on earth to be a trade unionist?

Not only should we be worried due to the old adage of “first they came for…”, but also rail workers do a vital job and keep us safe. Curtailing their ability to hold private companies, with more interest in profit than safety, to account is crucial for all of us. Our railways and our rail workers are part of tackling the climate emergency. These are green jobs, and they must be safe jobs in places safe for all of us. That is why myself and others pledged we would stand shoulder to shoulder with our RMT comrades and we will win.