Scotland: united public sector action against real wage cuts (There may be lessons to be learned!)

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Original article, and editorial/news release, vial Socialist Appeal:

On Wednesday 20th August up to 150,000 public sector workers in Scotland will be taking unified action on pay. GMB, UNISON and Unite members will all be on strike because local government workers have been offered a measly 2.5% a year deal over three years. This after the Cost and Price Index published last week shows the cost of living going up by 4.4%. This sudden jump has called the government’s bluff. Everybody knows the CPI doesn’t reflect the real increase in prices we face.

Here in Indiana, our public sector workers aren’t officially able to collective bargain.  It’s up to the whim of the governor if they’re allowed to (I belive they were able to for a bit before Mitch became governor, but he took it away from them).  Indiana, home to Eugene Debbs, Mother Jones and other great labor leaders, is a right to work state.

What is very significant is that PCS members employed by the Scottish government will be taking action on the same day. The SNP-run Scottish administration has discretion over their employees’ pay deals. Despite whining about rising prices and public sector wages falling behind under New Labour, in order to win the Glasgow East by-election, the SNP intends to hold most of their own workers to 2% for the next 3 years – a real pay cut. So the Group Executive Committee of PCS is calling members out for a second day of strike action on the 20th. This is the first industrial action taken against a devolved administration in Britain.

I know that there’s been a call for a general strike on September 11, 2008 here in the US.  The questions are: What planning is being done, what unions have been contacted (in an attempt at solidarity and a unified labor action), and what assurances do we have that it’s not just going to be some bloggers taking the day off?  I don’t mean this in a derisive way.  If a strike (general or not) is to be even noticed, it has to hit at the productivity of the bosses.

Group Vice-president Malcolm Clark told ‘Socialist Appeal,’ “The divisive approach adopted by management is quite pronounced and this is reflected in the response from members: many of those (especially more senior staff) in policy areas are (relatively) being looked after, whilst other staff are experiencing the full impact of the 2% cap. It is in the likes of the large call-centre type offices that we have the main concentrations of low paid members and it was there that the previous strike received the biggest response and where most of the current support for the action is coming from. As is usually the case, it is those least able to afford strike action that are most willing to make the sacrifice to fight for decent treatment.

The truth of the matter is that most of us have fallen for the bosses ruse.  How many of you get ‘merit’ pay raises?  Are those raises on top of COLAs?  If not, its likely that your pay raises are actually pay cuts.  Don’t think so?  If your pay doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation, then you’re actually getting a pay cut due to the inflation.  It’s a dirty little secret capitalism doesn’t like you to think too hard about.

“From the meetings I have held over the last few days, covering a variety of different work environments, I get the impression that the mood is varied too. No-one is supportive of the management approach, but some are resigned to it, especially since they imposed their pay increase last week. However, most will carry on supporting their union, even though they recognise this will not be a quick campaign, and their mood is hardening.

Resignation is an ally of the bosses.  Be it being resigned to accept whatever boost in pay you get, to accepting the idea that ‘more and better’ of a decrepit political party is somehow going to bring ‘hope’ and ‘change’ to the fore, resignation is a key goal of th bosses.  Don’t believe me?  Just take a look at the Democratic Congress.

“When the new administration came in last year, they were keen for officials to look at the ‘Virginia model of government’, with seminars and other events being held for senior managers. The ‘Virginia model’ looks at the broad organisation of government, but also has some specific recommendations on ‘reward’ for staff. Amongst the recommendations contained on slides from a presentation by a representative from the state of Virginia to managers in the Scottish Government last year were the following:

‘Get them [staff] excited!’

‘Walk the walk’

‘Encouraging the heart (Feed the Big Dogs!)’

‘Make sure the top performers get theirs first’

‘Allocate rewards downwards until resources are depleted’

‘Let the big dogs keep the others in line’.

It now looks like the new administration are using such measures.”

So Scotland is being introduced to American style management.  Poor Scots!  And their reaction:

The SNP are being deliberately divisive, offering experienced, comparatively well-paid staff incentives while fobbing off low-paid employees with the bare minimum – a real wage cut. This shows them up for what they really are – a capitalist party. Scotland should be effectively paralysed next Wednesday. The working class is waking up.  

Will we be able to say the same on September 11, 2008?

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  1. Ponies of the world unite and kick the bosses in the shin!

    • Temmoku on August 18, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Everyone is afraid that they will lose their job or afraid to speak out….and this is a “free” country? What happened?

    Bully for Scotland!


    “Scots Wha Hae!”

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