Tensions between claimants and jobcentre workers over sanctions have been rising for some time. Now, with the Public and Commercial Services union stifling rank-and-file efforts to initiate a non-cooperation campaign, they threaten to boil over into active hostility. How can we avoid this – and resist sanctions?
Universal Credit is set to replace Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, income support, housing benefit and tax credits. The single payment will be less than the five separate benefits, making it a welfare cut as well as a significant reform. It is going live with a trial at Ashton-under-Lyne jobcentre from 29 April.
The Public and Commercial Services Union has responded to threats of legal action by removing one section of its membership from the strike action due to take place on the 5 and 8 April. This shows the limits of legal trade unionism. It also underlines the urgent need for strong rank-and-file movements in the UK.
We’ve been here before. At the end of 2011, Balfour Beatty threatened to get an injunction against Unite the Union to stop the industrial action it had called for its members in construction. Unite responded by instantly capitulating.
Victimisation, by bosses and the state, of those who try to organise in the workplace is nothing new. But recently a spate of high profile cases have focused wider attention on the issue.
Last year, William Hill bookmakers announced plans to extend their Sunday opening hours. As they already have over long shifts, forced overtime and the generally shitty end of the stick when it comes to working conditions1
- 1. Not the least of which seems to be a callous attitude to the mental health of those whose shops get robbed.
With attacks on claimants and the unemployed escalating, campaigners and trade unions have made numerous calls for “unity” between workers and the unemployed. But too often, this “unity” is a purely theoretical one. How can we go beyond words to build a practical basis for solidarity across our entire class?
One of the most high profile examples of this unity of words is the joint statement signed by the PCS Union, Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.
On Saturday 2 February, the Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network held its inaugural national conference in Coventry. This is a brief report of the event and analysis of where the group is and should be heading.
The fact that the CSRF was having a conference at all was in itself an exciting development.
A look at my recent experiences organising at work, and in particular how they've been undermined by certain branch officials. How can militant workers respond when rank-and-file action is sabotaged by factionalism and personalities?
When talking about the next steps in the development of the Civil Service Rank & File Network, I mentioned particular issues organising locally. In the main, they are due to the utterly horrendous internal politics of PCS Bootle Taxes Branch.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has announced that it will ballot in the new year for renewed industrial action against government attacks on civil servants and public services. But will this really mark a departure from the stagnant campaign we've seen thus far? What can rank-and-file workers do to push away from the prospect of managed defeat?
It has now been over seven months since the last coordinated industrial action over public sector pensions. In the interim, the issue has died and for most of the union members involved in the dispute the consensus is that we lost.
The ongoing struggle against austerity have brought into focus the differences between the "left" and "right" of the trade union movement. But they have also shown the inadequacy of the trade union left and the illusions it promotes. So what hope do militant workers in the UK have of going beyond the limitations imposed on us from above?
On Monday Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, declared that the British trade union movement faced a "crisis of leadership." It is safe to say that he summed up the feelings of an awful lot of trade union members and activists when he did so.
A look at recent developments within the civil service. The government's latest attacks, the response from both the union and ordinary members, and the prospects of workers taking control of their own struggles.
On Thursday 18th October, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude visited a HMRC office in Coventry.
On September 28, the Cabinet Office wrote to all HR directors across the Civil Service, instructing them to review terms and conditions with a clear view to rolling them back. The letter was this month leaked to the Guardian, who exposed plans to extend working hours, cut annual leave and attack other benefits like flexi time. The detailed policy document that accompanied this letter has now also been leaked.
The Guardian's leak has already provoked widespread anger amongst civil servants. Whilst the response of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has been muted, condemning the report but promising nothing more radical than lobbying MPs and incorporating the issue into their existing national campaign, workers themselves have indicated they are up for a fight.