Stewards have been banned from placing circulars on union notice boards about the “Future That Works” demonstrations in London, Belfast and Glasgow. (Pictured: PCS delegates at TUC congress, Brighton)
PCS reps say they are being forced to hold meetings with members outside their workplaces because industrial relations with Home Office managers have reached ‘a new low’.
(Pictured: PCS delegates at TUC annual congress, Brighton. September 2012)
Stewards have been banned from placing circulars on union notice boards, including posters and flyers about tomorrow’s A Future That Works demonstrations in London, Belfast and Glasgow.
They say the ban on union activity has even extended to ordering reps not to send information to members using departmental email facilities.
Activists have described the bans as ‘largely pointless’ and that they indicate ‘how scared they [managers] must be of PCS members’.
One London rep said: “This kind of action by the employer is not done out of a position of power.
“It’s an inherent weakness related to the fear they have at the prospect of people joining together and rising up against them.”
Despite managers’ attempts to clamp down on information about the TUC-organised protests, PCS estimates more than 20,000 members will travel into central London for Saturday’s march and rally.
Officials say members and their families from London and the south east will be joined by more than 4,000 colleagues from the English regions and Wales.
Tens of thousands more are expected to join simultaneous marches in Glasgow and Belfast.
The TUC confirmed this week that it is to consult unions on the practicalities of organising a general strike, following a decision taken at the TUC congress in Brighton last month.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka is expected to use his speech at the rally in Hyde Park on Saturday afternoon to say that, as well as marching together, union members in the public and private sectors should organise joint strike action as soon as possible after 20 October.
He is expected to tell demonstrators: “Almost everyone now agrees that austerity isn’t working and that this government’s policies are making our economic situation worse, not better.”
“We’re not just marching against the cuts, we’re marching for the alternative: an alternative where we invest in our economy and our public services to create jobs, instead of cutting them; where we don’t demonise and punish people for being on benefits, we get them back into work and paying their taxes.
“We should be demonising the real scroungers, the ones who really live a ‘something for nothing’ lifestyle, the tax dodgers like Starbucks who deprive our public finances of tens of billions of pounds every year and the millionaires in the cabinet who inherited their money instead of working for it like the rest of us.”
The Home Office clampdown on the work of union reps comes after the Cabinet Office announced it intends to place heavy restrictions on trade union facility time and as details emerged of plans for sweeping changes to the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of civil servants across the UK.
A PCS spokesman told UnionNews: “This, and the farce this summer where Home Office ministers tried to deny the existence of hundreds of jobs they were advertising for rather than admit they’d made a massive mistake by cutting so many border staff, shows just how dysfunctional it is at the top of that department.”
Tomorrow’s demonstrations come after a latest YouGov poll showed the Coalition government’s approval rating is down to -37% (minus), with only 24% of respondents saying they thought ministers were doing a good job.
When asked who would make the best prime minister the most popular answer at 37% was: ‘Don’t know’.
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