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I'd rather be a picket than a scab!

Liverpool Solidarity Federation members joined a picket line today to show support for comrades in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. The aim of the picket was to try and prevent scabbing by workers defying an overtime ban voted for by union members to defend civil service jobs.

Q&A with a SolFed member and PCS activist

What’s this action all about?
PCS have been in dispute with the government for some time now over proposed changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme [CSCS]. This is the scheme which says how much compensation members get if made redundant, and naturally with job losses on the horizon they want to lessen the cost. It was the previous government’s refusal to negotiate on this matter that necessitated the 3-day strike in March and the court case, which PCS won.

Problems at work No.5: 1st steps - Organising at Work What's the point in organising, what rights have we got?

Workers' rights are indeed in a sorry state, but this only underlines the need to organise on the job, in our own workplaces. What rights we do have, mainly in the area of health and safety, aren't properly enforced, so it's clear that the state has little interest in our welfare over and above the level necessary to keep the economy's cogs turning. Many situations at work fall outside the law and so it is down to workers themselves to ‘negotiate'. Often, this is done only in staff meetings where the agenda is controlled by the bosses, or where workers can only voice concerns individually. Clearly this is far from ideal. The employer retains absolute control as no effective threat is posed. Only by organising can workers force their boss to sit up and pay attention.

But how can we organise? There isn't a union in my workplace.

Cuts in Britain: Workers Pay for Capitalism's Crisis

Throughout the world it is the workers who are paying the price for the capitalist crisis. In Britain it took a trillion pounds sterling to save the banks from collapse and the government now aims to pay for the bank bailout by making brutal spending cuts. The attacks by the Thatcher government decimated many working class communities but the planned spending cuts go much further than Thatcher ever dreamed. Over the next 4 years the government intends to cut public spending by 25%.

When We Fight Back!

Older readers may remember those far off days of the 1970s when attacking greedy militant trade unionist was all the rage. A rain forest's worth of print was produced arguing that organised workers were grabbing all the wealth, causing economic havoc and creating a more unequal Britain. The low paid, less well organised workers, were supposedly left behind in the wage race by their unionised brothers and sisters.

Can I phone a friend?

Pell and Bales is a London call centre that raises funds on behalf of major charities. Since a venture capital company, ICENI, bought shares in P&B, the volume of calls staff must make has increased.

This added pressure led to friction between management and staff, and an increase in petty disciplinary actions and grievances.

Pat Carmody, a caller and CWU rep at Pell & Bales, helped build a fast-growing union that won a pay increase for the first time in 6 years and is capable of winning disciplinaries and grievances. Senior management were none too pleased.

In June, Carmody was suspended for writing an article for Socialist Worker in defence of a suspended colleague. Management claimed the article defamed the company and suspended him.

Summer of discontent?

Following hot on the heels of recent strikes across the public sector (including teachers and the civil service), UNISON members in local government have voted to reject the government’s desultory pay offer, which amounted to another 3 years of pay cuts. This follows years of below inflation “pay rises” (in the real world, pay cuts), and comes as the government attempts to limit public sector pay claims to 2% across the board. Last year, UNISON members voted to reject the government’s initial offer, and voted to take industrial action when the offer was only raised to 2.475% - still well short of inflation, which remains at over 4%. However, despite this vote for action, UNISON instead folded, and accepted another pay cut – perhaps unsurprising from a union led by Dave Prentis, one of New Labour’s biggest supporters in the union movement.

Shelter in a Storm

Workers at Shelter, who provide advice and support to the homeless and badly housed, are fighting to defend their pay and conditions, as well as the core value of the organisation itself.

Shelter’s senior management have responded favourably to New Labour’s policy of tendering public services to the lowest bidder. Management are seeking to implement proposals that would see staff work extra hours for no extra pay, downgrade jobs, remove pay increments and see compulsory redundancies.

While telling dedicated, experienced workers they were not value for money, the charity’s head offices were refurbished at a cost of £750,000, new managers have been employed and senior management gave themselves a pay increase.

Strike, occupy, sabotage! - leaflet for anti-cuts march

The text of the leaflet produced by the South London local being distributed on the London anti-cuts march on Saturday 23rd October 2010.

The working class across Europe is facing the worst attacks on our standard of living, jobs and services for decades. We have been forced to pay for capitalism’s crisis since it began; redundancies, pay cuts, benefit cuts, increasing workloads for those who kept their jobs... the private and public sector alike.

As the scale of the cut-backs begins to sink in, there are signs of a growing
movement against the cuts, with hundreds attending public meetings across the country. Many, disenchanted with the anti-war marches and the lethargy of the unions, are arguing for more direct methods in this struggle.

Strike, occupy, sabotage! - leaflet for anti-cuts march

The text of the leaflet being distributed on the London anti-cuts march on Saturday 23rd October 2010.

The working class across Europe is facing the worst attacks on our standard of living, jobs and services for decades. We have been forced to pay for capitalism’s crisis since it began; redundancies, pay cuts, benefit cuts, increasing workloads for those who kept their jobs... the private and public sector alike.

As the scale of the cut-backs begins to sink in, there are signs of a growing
movement against the cuts, with hundreds attending public meetings across the country. Many, disenchanted with the anti-war marches and the lethargy of the unions, are arguing for more direct methods in this struggle.

Radical Workers Bloc on Anti-Cuts March

A callout by our South London local, reproduced here due to its relevance for all of London

On Saturday 23rd October 2010 a number of trade unions have called for a march in London to lobby the TUC to fight the cuts. This is the same day as the annual London Anarchist Bookfair and a day when a large number of anarchists are in the city. We are calling on all anarchists and militant workers to join us in forming a 'Radical Worker's Bloc' on the demonstration, not to beg the trade union bureaucrats to take action, but to argue that we fight the cuts based on the principles of solidarity, direct action, and control of our own struggles.

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