General Secretary

August 2010 | 16.08.2010

Defending Public Sector Workers

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David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne, three millionaire public schoolboys want to launch the biggest attack on working class living standards in modern history.

The scale and quickness of the announcements are incredible.  Public spending will be cut by 25 to 40 per cent, the state pension age will be increased once more, pensions will be slashed and pay frozen.  This coalition Government have scrapped the Building Schools for the Future programme and want to hand over billions of taxpayers money to GPs to fund the NHS which will effectively hand it to their friends in private consortiums.

Privatisation is a process that has been going on for decades under Conservatives and Labour Governments.  In reality, there is very little evidence that private companies have saved public money or delivered services more efficiently.  We know that only too well with Private Prisons.  Indeed in relation to prisons there is now evidence per prisoner place private prisons are 10 per cent overall more expensive than Public Sector Prisons.

The POA in the coming months will be focussing on our strategy and getting our message over to the general public, the media and members of parliament in destroying some of the myths about Public Sector Workers.

Francis Maude has recently announced more attacks on the Public Sector Workers within the Civil Service.  Reviews on pensions is currently being carried out by John Hutton, the Civil Service Compensation Scheme is being attacked through primary legislation being introduced in the autumn although negotiations are ongoing through the Council of Civil Service Unions which of course the POA are a member.  Reviews are also being considered on sick pay and geographical pay.  A pay freeze has been introduced without any consultation.

All these issues are currently being worked on by the POA Executive and issues will become clearer on the outcomes come the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010.

The POA must be active at all levels to produce and campaign against these savage cuts to our terms and conditions.

To compound all of this the 25 per cent cuts over the next years must also be fought to ensure that the health and safety of our members are guaranteed.

 

At the moment it appears to be all pain and no gain.  Public Sector Workers are bearing the brunt of the ethos of greed before need.  The Banks and the Financial systems led by speculators gambling with our money caused this deficit not the hard working Prison Officer, Teacher, Nurse, Fireman or Railway worker and we need to ensure that we do not suffer or are incorrectly blamed for the collapse of the world economy.

The fightback has started in Greece and Spain and the trade union movement needs to realise that divided we will be conquered.  If we unite then we will get our message across.  That is why this years Trade Union Congress is so important.  By mobilising and campaigning collectively we stand a chance, but all POA members will have to play their part in the coming campaigns to get our message across.

We need to be clear with our case against these cuts if we are to protect our future and stave off further private companies making a profit from incarceration.  Public Sector Prison Officers have done a magnificent job on behalf of society and we need to make that clearer to the general public. The Executive will be rolling out our strategy over the coming months.

I attended significant celebrations for Workers and Trades Unions those being the Durham Miners gala on weekend 10th/11th July 2010 and the Tolpuddle Festival on the 17th/18th July 2010.  I would like to thank the National Union of Mineworkers for inviting both myself and Colin Moses.  The struggles of working people came to the forefront with the magnificent brass bands and colliery banners.  Proud people keeping a tradition going long after the pits closed.  The Gala developed out of the Miners Trade Unionism, with the first Union being established in 1869.  The Durham Miners Union organised the first Gala which was held in 1871 in Wharton Park, Durham.

The closure of collieries in County Durham has done little to dampen the spirit and the banners are still paraded by a proud community who have suffered throughout the years because of Government policy in relation to coal mines.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a group of agricultural labourers who were tried and transported to Australia for the crime of trying to form a union.  Their story is key to the formation of modern trade’s unionism.

We owe it to the sacrifices of others to fight and fight hard for our rights at work.  It is no use thinking that someone else is going to do it as every POA member must share that responsibility.

 

 

I leave you with these words:

“They came first for the communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up”.

Yours sincerely

 

Steve Gillan
General Secretary