THE CIVIL servants' PCS union is balloting over 300 members for all-out strike action in the Brent and Streatham Jobcentre Plus Pathfinder pilots. The mood is excellent, with over 100 members at an evening rally last week headed by general secretary elect Mark Serwotka and Brian Butterworth from Brent UNISON.
This is the first step in a rapidly escalating campaign towards national action across the Employment Service and Benefits Agency. Health and safety of staff in Jobcentre Plus is at the forefront of this dispute, which is the fault of an uncaring employer hell-bent on driving its agenda through regardless of its employees' concerns.
We have every confidence now of a strong majority, and rocking the New Labour flagship for welfare reform being piloted in Brent.
Picket the Department of Work and Pensions-no cuts in jobs, stop privatisation. Assemble Friday 17 August, 11am, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall (Charing Cross tube)
THE STRIKE threat by PCS union members at the DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has management rattled. Former MAFF staff working for DEFRA are to receive a pay rise of £1,000 a year for junior and lower executive London staff, and £750 for all other staff. Annual leave has been increased to 30 days for all staff on entry. This is the second pay offer imposed by DEFRA this year in addition to an earlier 'final offer'.
PCS officials rightly derided the new pay rise as inadequate. The ballot for a one-day all-out strike on 20 August followed by local strikes is under way. A well attended meeting of PCS members in London heard Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary elect, offer full backing to our dispute and urge a yes vote for action.