Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good luck, mate

Our candidate, Danny Lambert, has received the following email from the London Regional Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union. Our replies to the questions are in bold.

Dear Danny,

Your views on public services

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is asking candidates standing in the London Assembly elections about their views on public services. PCS is the union for more than 55000 London-based civil servants and those working in non departmental public bodies,related areas and the private sector. Responses will then be distributed locally to members and posted on the PCS prior to the election on 1 May to help them make up their minds when they cast their votes.

This is a unique opportunity for you to comment on the current state of civil and public services and will give you an opportunity to get your message across to all our members in the run up to the election.

We would be delighted if you could respond on behalf of your party to the following three questions:

1. PCS is campaigning for fair pay for its members, meaning that their pay should increase in line with inflation and be negotiated nationally instead of 200 separate sets of negotiations. Do you support PCS’s campaign for fair pay for public servants?

The Socialist Party is all in favour of wage and salary workers organising to fight employers to defend and try to improve their pay and conditions. So, good luck to you. This is necessary under capitalism but it's like running up a downward moving escalator. It's never-ending. We would urge your members to look beyond this, and consider the case for a genuinely socialist society (which has never yet been tried) based on the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources, where there'd be no employers and no working for wages but the application of the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". As Karl Marx urged trade unionists years ago: "Instead of the conservative motto: 'A fair day's pay for a fair day's work' they ought to inscribe on their banners the revolutionary watchwords: 'Abolition of the wages system'".

2. The government has proposed to cut over 100,000 civil and public service jobs disproportionately affecting London & the South East due to the Lyons review . They claim these cuts will not impact service delivery to the public, however every day our members are seeing how less staff means a poorer service to the public. Where do you stand on cutting civil and public service jobs?

The government is doing this to save money and reduce the tax burden on businesses so these can be competitive on world markets. That's the name of the game under global capitalism and all governments are forced to play it. Obviously less staff means more work for those left and, as you put it , "poorer services to the public". But capitalism is not about providing services for people. It's about making profits. These have to come first. Any government, and not just this Labour one, has to do this. This is why we would advise you to be wary of rival politicians who promise they won't. If elected, they will. This is a trade union issue and all we can do is, once again, wish your members luck in protecting their working conditions.

3. PCS is concerned that privatisation of the civil service has continued since 1997. We believe this is costly and unnecessary and jeopardises services being delivered to the public, often the most vulnerable in society. Where do you stand on privatising public services?

It was natural that a Tory government should privatise some government departments as they've always been the party of business, and privatisation opens up another area where their business friends can make a profit. Some might be surprised that this policy should be continued by a Labour government but privatisation is another aspect of cost-cutting to save taxes on profits, the idea being, as of course you know, to do this by undermining previously-established working conditions. (And of course Labour now has its own business friends who profit from privatisation and donate money to them.) Once again, don't expect help from any politician on this. That's why our members in your union don't pay the political levy and think the PCS should not be affiliated to the Labour Party. Only sound trade union action has any chance of maintaining previous conditions whether the employer is the government or a private firm.

We request that you keep your answer to each question to less than 150 words and send us your responses by 4th April. Please send them to me at send to the above address. If you have any queries regarding this request please call me on 020 7801 2764.

Government job cuts are ripping the heart out of our public services we all rely on.

PCS members are campaigning for:No compulsory redundancies
An end to privatisation without agreement
An end to unfair pay
Adequate resources and decent working conditions
No cuts to the civil service compensation scheme

I look forward to receiving your response.

Dean Rogers
Regional Secretary
PCS London & South East

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