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Unions warned of government attacks

Published 18/05/2015

Mark Serwotka is to tell delegates that many people will be feeling 'demoralised and afraid' after the general election
Mark Serwotka is to tell delegates that many people will be feeling 'demoralised and afraid' after the general election

Unions face attacks from the new Government on a greater scale than in the 1980s, according to a top official.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), will press for co-ordinated action from unions.

He will tell the PCS annual conference in Brighton tomorrow: "In my formative years as a young rep I watched an ideological Tory government systematically dismantle every power base that opposed it - shutting down the unionised industries, attacking any local government resistance and dividing our society with bribes and bullying tactics.

"But what we face today is on a greater scale: because it builds on that attack in the 1980s."

He will tell delegates that many people will be feeling "demoralised and afraid" after the general election.

"In times like this there are two options - fight or fright. For many people the response is to curl up into a ball, keep their heads down and hope they'll be left alone," Mr Serwotka is to add.

"Our purpose isn't to say there will be no hiding place and to scare them more. It is our task to give people hope, to build their confidence and show them we can win, we don't have to accept defeat as an inevitable state of affairs for the next five years.

"In the last parliament it took the action of us and three education unions to get the ball rolling for co-ordinated action across the public sector.

"But that short-lived coalition crumbled. We had joint action but never agreed joint demands or a joint strategy.

"So, we need to learn the lessons. I'm confident we can overcome the challenges. It will be tough but by working together, building alliances with other unions and social movements, we can do it."

Mr Serwotka will say that the political system is failing to reflect people's views, adding: "Our union is a long-standing supporter of proportional representation - and now is time to step up the campaign.

"The current system is grossly unfair in allocating seats from votes but, more importantly, PR is the key to giving a political voice to the millions of people who reject austerity."

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