Unions prepare for coordinated strikes


Unions have backed calls for coordinated action over the government's below inflation pay deals for public sector workers.

Delegates warned Gordon Brown he was condemning public sector workers to "poverty wages" by insisting pay deals must be capped to control inflation.

Employees across the NHS, Royal Mail, prison service and civil service face pay rises of two per cent, in a move unions claim will further devalue wages.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, called on delegates to meet again immediately after this year's congress in Brighton to agree on a coordination plan for action.

Steve Cox, of the Prison Officers' Association, said today: "None of us want a repeat of the winter of 1978. However, if the government continues like this, we have to be ready for action.

"If we are left with no alternative, we will all be out on the street."

TUC secretary general Brendan Barber has already warned Mr Brown he risks paying a "political and industrial price" if he refuses to accommodate worker's pay demands.

Yesterday, PCS members at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) moved towards strike action by rejecting a pay offer which would see their wages frozen next year.

And today the Communication Workers Union warned of possible further strikes at Post Office counters after talks broke down between the union and Royal Mail.

In a speech to congress this afternoon, Mr Serwotka tore apart the prime minister's argument that "discipline" over public sector pay is necessary to control inflation.

He pointed to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, which attributed recent falls in RPI inflation to supermarket price cuts and sales on furniture and electoral goods, as well changes in the energy market.

"What effect can the pay off staff in the Ministry of Defence or Courts Service, or nurses, or council workers have on the price of these?" he asked congress.

Mr Serwotka repeated calls made throughout the conference for the prime minister to target city bonuses when looking at inflation.


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