This is a summary of a report of discussions by officers of the PCS, NUT, UCU and other trade unions in London to prepare joint action to defend public services:
Whatever the outcome of the forthcoming General Election, all the mainstream parties are committed to massive public expenditure cuts - including cutting services, pay freezes and attacks on pensions - in order to reduce the budget deficit.
Given the imminence of the General Election, there is an urgent need to build an alliance and, therefore, the PCS London & South-East Regional Committee have taken the decision to seek to expand the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) at regional level. The TUCG has been formed by a number of unions coming together at national level, including the the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers union (BFAWU); Fire Brigades Union (FBU); National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO); National Union of Journalists (NUJ); Prison Officers Association (POA); Public & Commercial Services (PCS); Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT); and the United Road Transport Union (URTU). In addition, PCS had formed closer working relationships with the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the University & College Union (UCU) through joint activity - such as the demonstration at the Labour Party conference.
A number of proposals were put forward in terms of developing a programme of action and an alternative to the cuts agenda:
• to call for a conference of public sector reps in defence of public services which would develop a perspective - including an explanation of the causes of the crisis and its implications for the bargaining agenda - and an agreed joint programme of action. This has subsequently been endorsed by the SE Region TUC Executive Committee.
• the programme of action would include consideration of campaign materials, (including propaganda and publicity), and activities, (such as local demonstrations which would feed in to a regional event and highlighting the issue of youth unemployment).
• building a “solidarity network” to support workers in struggle - including setting out the case for solidarity and organising public meetings/speaking tours.