NIPSA: Effective defence of services needed

On 26 March 2010, NIPSA has organised a special meeting for delegates from across the union as part of its “Public Service Defence Campaign”. This meeting comes at a time of government attacks upon, not only on the pay and conditions of public service workers, but the public service itself. The Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, has recently announced a massive £365 million cut in the budget of the Northern Ireland Executive.

These cuts will have a drastic effect on all areas of the public service including health, education, housing etc. These cuts must be fought. Already there has been a recruitment freeze in many areas of the public service. This will have an immediate effect upon young people who look to the public service for a job. The special meeting of delegates must be the first step in a co-ordinated campaign by NIPSA in its defence of the public service.

But even the £365 million cut may be dwarfed by the cuts after the British general election, with both Labour and the Tories vying with each other on who can cut public expenditure the quickest and the most.

The Left-led NIPSA General Council has a proud and successful record of campaigning in defence of public services and against job cuts. Probably the biggest success for the Left was in achieving equal pay for the mainly female membership. The equal pay settlement was the biggest in the history of the union with some low paid workers getting annual pay rises off over £3,000 and lump sum payments, for some members, of up to £14,000.

Earlier this year, a decision was taken by some activists to set up a new Broad Left within the union. This  decision was based on the need to give clear and decisive direction to those in the union who support the need to fight on behalf of the members and to lead the fight for jobs, decent pay and properly funded public services.

The fundamental task is to build the Broad Left to ensure that NIPSA  becomes a fighting democratic union, with no return to the days of “pushover” trade unionism. It is vital that Broad Left members campaign to defend our members jobs, pay and the future of the services we provide.

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