An agreement between PCS and Unite in the defence sector aims at protecting workers affected by the government's cuts.
The ‘fair deal in defence’ sets out five key objectives:
Unite national officer Mike McCartney, who signed the agreement with MoD PCS group president Chris Dando during the group conference in Brighton today, said working together would help to put pressure on the department and government to consider the pressures facing workers who have even greater workloads as a result of the cuts.
“We are going to be looking at how we can work together on activities both industrial and non-industrial. We did need to be cohesive,” said Mike.
Mike, whose Unite members’ jobs include technicians, drivers and stores suppliers, said the unions would look to work at grass roots level on joint activities and campaigning.
“We believe it’s the start of the process with a lot to do between us,” he added.
A game of snakes and ladders showing the pitfalls of the welfare system has proved popular with PCS members in Brighton.
The giant board game is the idea of the National Unemployment Centres Combine (NUCC) and uses the slogan: “Climbing out of poverty”. The game has been a hit with delegates to PCS group conferences this week. Among the ‘ladders’ are ‘accessed credit union for debt advice’ and ‘received support with health condition,’ while the snakes include ‘discriminated against due to health condition’ and ‘benefits stopped by the jobcentre’.
Colin Hampton of the NUCC said the game, exhibited in the foyer of the Brighton Conference Centre, came about after a group of people experiencing poverty were asked to produce something for a conference they were going to and they created a snakes and ladders mural showing the pitfalls of the welfare system.
“The board shows how people are helped and hindered by the welfare system, particularly highlighting the many pitfalls which prevent people from getting a permanent position with job satisfaction and good pay,” said Colin, a convenor at the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres. “We desperately need to affect public opinion on the issue of poverty and social mobility and we are getting a lot of interest in people wanting to use the game at various events.
“Social mobility is lower than it was in the 1970s. And this is only a small step in countering the huge propaganda exercise which blames poverty on the poor and unemployment on the unemployed.”
Delegates gathering for PCS's 2012 annual conference will be looking to steer the union through a period of unprecedented attacks on members' pensions, jobs, pay and general working conditions.
On the first morning (Wednesday 22 May) activists will hear from general secretary Mark Serwotka a detailed analysis of the unprecedented challenges facing the union, and how it must change to face them.
A motion from the PCS national executive committee condemns the government’s continuing assaults on the public sector and sets out a strategy for continuing the campaign, jointly with other unions, for an alternative of investment for economic growth and tax justice.
PCS members are facing:
All of these issues will be discussed at the conference which is in Brighton from 23 to 25 May.
Other motions submitted to the union’s sovereign body cover subjects including: working arrangements during the Olympic Games; joint working with the Unite union; support for workers in Europe who are taking strike action to protect their jobs and the provision of legal services to PCS members.
Delegates from the union’s branches and councils instruct the organisation’s leaders on their priorities for the next year.
On the Wednesday lunchtime the union will unveil a major new pamphlet on an alternative to the government’s cuts – ‘Austerity isn’t working’.
On Thursday, we will launch a new report, ‘Why are they increasing the tax gap?’ by Richard Murphy, founder of the Tax Justice Network.