“We are never stronger than when we speak with one voice,” says UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis (pictured)


Unions have voted to carry out co-ordinated strike action unless the government listens to their concerns over public sector pay.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis (pictured) said: “We are never stronger than when we co-ordinate action, when we speak with one voice. Yes, we will seek decent pay, fair pay. Yes, we will negotiate: that is what our membership expect us to do.

“But make no mistake, if employers refuse to negotiate; if the attacks continue – we will deliver the co-ordination action called for in this motion.”

Referring to the Olympic crowd’s reaction to George Osborne, he added: “The time has come to do more than booing, more than talking. Now is the time for action.”

Earlier, he said: “It is our job to lead the fight back. To protect our heritage. To defend that fairer society that those who went before us fought for. To fight for a future that works. To ensure that October 20th is the biggest anti-cuts demonstration in our history. A day that will give hope to our people, and hope for a better, fairer society.

“But October 20th has to be more, more more than just a march. It must be the launch pad for our campaign against austerity.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We heard this morning about the full extent how the government’s austerity agenda represents the biggest attack on working class people this country has ever seen.

“But PCS believes as we come to this conference that we need a sense of urgency. We need a sense of urgency to turn these words into actions before it’s too late. On jobs: 700,000 public sector jobs to go, unemployment predicted to reach three million, record levels of youth unemployment bringing real despair and destitution to our communities. On the pension age – we will have the longest pension age of any country in Western Europe. Why could they reduce the pension age of 62 to 60 in France and in Britain we are told to work till 68 and it will rise from there?

“In terms of pay we have the situation where PCS members in a recent survey told us their average income had fallen by over £100, 88% of them had to reduce their spending and 77% of members tell us their money runs out in the third week of the month and they have to borrow. We have to be clear that fighting for a minimum wage is one of the basic things we need to do and while we are at it we need to tell Ed Balls tomorrow that Labour’s support for the public sector pay freeze is shameful.

“And so onto welfare – a welfare state that is now under siege: cuts to disability benefits, compulsory workfare, benefits being reduced in a way that we haven’t seen for decades and now Save the Children telling us that 25% of all kids in the UK live in poverty.

“The situation is appalling but I want to finish on this – what are we going to do about it? We need 20 October to be the biggest demonstration we have ever seen. But PCS believes that the way to really shock the government is to follow up the demonstration as quickly as we can with mass co-ordinated strike action across the public and private sector.

“When we prepare for it we have to learn the lessons of what went brilliantly well last 30 November but also face up to some of the weaknesses where we need to do better next time. For those who tell us that strikes don’t win, in PCS – in the most difficult circumstances – our members have won 1,100 new jobs in the public sector in the Home Office.

“In Britain’s tax offices, as a result of strike action in recent weeks, 1,000 new jobs, more work rights for 4,000 temporary staff and a commitment to recruit 3,000 extra staff in the months ahead. If we can win in those departments, win thousands of new jobs, imagine what we can win if we march together, strike together and consign the government’s austerity to the dustbin of history and give hope and inspiration to the millions that look to us. Turn words into action later this year.”

The motion, also supported by Unite, RMT, UCU and UCATT, was passed unanimously.

Tomorrow, conference is due to discuss a motion calling for a general strike.

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