“We can share ideas and tactics on how to organise, and how beat the government’s anti-trade union legislation and we can discuss where joint-up, targeted action can have the biggest impact.”
Ahead of the rescheduled TUC Conference which starts today (October 18th), we have republished Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary‘s piece on building radical action within the trade union movement.
The coming months are going to be like something we have never experienced before, with multiple crises all unfolding at the same time. Unions need to be up for the fight because the outlook is unimaginably bleak.
14.5 million people are living in poverty. Millions are already struggling. Once the January energy price rise comes into effect, it’s predicted that 39 million people will be in fuel poverty, a staggering 54% of the country. This level of suffering in one of the richest nations on earth is unconscionable.
So why are things so bad and going to get much worse? The answer is simple: a relentless attack on people’s living standards by successive Conservative governments. Billions of pounds have been slashed from the welfare state, public services and housing. On top of this, pay has stagnated and millions of workers haven’t had a real-terms pay rise for over ten years.
It was working-class people who paid the price for the 2008 banking crisis and it will be an injustice if the fallout of the crises-ridden last few years sees the same thing happen again. After being battered by austerity for more than a decade and now abandoned by the government at a time of crisis, workers are saying enough is enough.
The insulting pay offers put forward by employers and their pay review bodies fall way short of what’s needed during a time of double-digit inflation and have been roundly rejected by unions. Couple this with further assaults on terms and conditions and it’s no surprise there’s already been a wave of strike action across the country, with workers from the public and private sectors taking a stand.
More unions are balloting their members at the moment or will be doing so very soon, including my union PCS. The attacks are on every front and they’re never-ending. That’s why PCS is holding a national statutory ballot on the issue of pay, pensions, redundancy pay and job cuts.
Our demands are for the government to not only shield members from the impact of the cost of living crisis but to compensate them for the decades long onslaught on their living standards. The situation in other unions will be similar and we all need to channel this anger into a joint campaign across the public and private sectors that can win for members.
We can share ideas and tactics on how to organise, and how beat the government’s anti-trade union legislation and we can discuss where joint-up, targeted action can have the biggest impact.
Now is the time for the TUC and the unions within it to be bold and radical. The following months will be decisive for our movement as we build a campaign against a backdrop of an unprecedented crisis for our members.
The consequences if we don’t get this right will be disastrous. Now more than ever, we need to come together, fight and win.
- Mark Serwotka is the General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). You can follow PCS on Facebook and twitter.
- This article was originally published in the Labour Outlook TUC conference special edition. It is being republished ahead of TUC conference 2022 which starts today (October 18th).