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(en) WCR #4 - Interview with CSA - Organise! (Ireland)

From Al S <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Mon, 23 Feb 2004 20:26:19 +0100 (CET)


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WORKERS SUSPENDED AS GOVERNMENT WEIGH IN AGAINST STRUGGLE FOR FAIR PAY
As we go to press Government and bosses have made good
their threats of disciplinary action against workers fighting
for an end to poverty pay in the Civil Service. Seven workers
– all from the same department have been suspended for taking
part in a work to rule. Four of the seven are shop stewards.
This is clearly an attempt to break the union, NIPSA, and the
resolve of its members in the CSA.
The original threats threatening the withdrawal of
flexible working arrangements and other disciplinary
action against workers taking part in the pay dispute
was met with a wildcat walkout by thousands of NIPSA
members on 5th February. This hardened the resolve of
workers and increased support for the ‘official’
strike the next day.

It appears that the management offensive has been
deliberately concentrated on workers in the CSA who
are regarded by management as a particularly
troublesome and militant section of the union and the
dispute. A member of Organise! talked to an activist
from that department on Wednesday the 18th of
February. Shortly afterwards it was reported that
senior management had decided to award themselves an
additional 2% while the 3.67% imposed by management.
Organise! believe it is time to escalate the strike
action building to week long day stoppages. Pressure
needs to be maintained on the union leadership to
ensure this dispute is fought effectively. The whole
NIPSA membership should be taking action in support of
this dispute while workers in other areas need to
provide practical solidarity and support.

O!: Could you tell me a bit about the background to
the dispute, why are civil servants across the north
engaged in industrial action?

We are on this path because the Government has decided
that we do not need a fair and reasonable pay rise for
2003. It is also to do with protecting our future
terms and conditions, while senior management have
awarded themselves between 4% and 9% plus bonuses of
between £3,000 and £6,000 per year the average admin
officer must make do with an increment of £500 for the
year and absolutely no cost of living allowance. Most
of the people involved in the dispute are on £10,000 a
year.

O!: The Government and senior management have gone on
the offensive against workers taking action in order
to break the strike and prolong poverty pay. What is
your response to the Finance Ministers announcement
that industrial action is futile and that there is no
money available to meet the workers demands?

The point here is that initially management offered a
5.57% rise with strings. Strings which were not
disclosed to the union. We know that these strings
would not have improved our terms and conditions so on
our refusal to accept them the offer was withdrawn. A
‘pay rise’ was then imposed on us at nowhere near the
original 5.57% offered. If there is no more money
then where has the money gone? Or perhaps it was,
like the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, never
really there in the first place. My response to this
is that we must stand firm in the knowledge that we
are not going to be bullied by a bunch of overpaid
managers with no grasp of living on poverty wages.

O!:So far seven of your fellow workers have been
suspended for taking part in a work to rule, what
impact has this had on them and workers in the Civil
Service in general?

These workers were given one hour to seek union
guidance and then decide whether to end their work to
rule or be suspended from duty without pay. Each one
of them decided that they would take the suspension.
This sends the message that we will not be intimidated
by naked aggression nor will we give in to illegal
management tactics. The mission statement of the CSA
is that child poverty must be eradicated – one of the
people suspended is pregnant. This shows perfectly
the CSA’s commitment to the welfare of children.
There’s a load of people who have lost their
flexi-time and must now work 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, even
though we are supposed to provide a service to the
public from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m.. How can we
provide this service if we are not allowed in before
9.00 a.m. and must leave again at 5.00 p.m.? Again
the CSA shows its caring side.

O!:What support have these seven received from their
fellow workers in their own department and across the
Civil Service?

They have received solid backing from workers in this
department and a pledge that we will find the funds to
alleviate their circumstances. We have had great
support from many offices across the DSD and remain in
constant contact with these branches to keep them up
dated on any developments.

O!:Have the moves by senior management/Government
weakened the resolve of workers in this struggle?

Not at all. The example set by these seven workers
who have been suspended has galvanised support and
strengthened our resolve. We will not be defeated by
a management with their heads in the clouds and no
firm grasp on reality.

O!:Can you win this struggle?

Yes we can. With a united workforce and a strong
union.

O!:Bearing in mind the escalation of the dispute by
management/Government what do you see as the next step
for workers in taking this dispute forward?

The only way to take this struggle forward, in my
opinion, is for the union to escalate the industrial
action. We need all out strike action – five days at
a time! The time has passed for one day strikes here
and there. We must now get as aggressive with
management as they have become with us. When this
happens I would call on members of the public and
fellow workers to attend the picket lines to show
their solidarity with us.

Jason

*******************************************************

>From the pages of Working Class Resistance!#4,
bulletin of Organise!. To distribute WCR!, contact
Organise! at:

organiseireland@yahoo.ie

http://www.organiseireland.org

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