HUNDREDS OF Benefits Agency and Employment Service civil servants in the PCS union in south west London and Brent in west London are continuing their indefinite strike action. It is against management proposals to remove screens. The strikers all work in the government's new Pathfinder scheme.
'We are very strong and very determined,' said Joe Riley, one of the strikers. 'The strike is going great and we have had mass pickets every day. There's a real strength of feeling over this issue. People who we never expected to see on the picket line have been there. Management think that by taking down screens and decorating the offices it will stop people being concerned about being below the poverty level. But the welfare system agitates people. If it was a decent system we wouldn't need screens, but for now we need them to ensure our safety. 'The intimidation from management has been unbelievable. They have tried to ensure people are frightened and won't take strike action, and they have bussed in strikebreakers. But this hasn't broken us.'
PCS members at the massive Makerfield benefit office near Wigan and the local Fulham office have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action after management tried to force them to do work from striking offices. 'We are escalating the ballot,' said Joe Riley. 'We're hoping to get a national ballot of all 50 or so Pathfinder offices soon.'
The key to winning is national action by all Benefit Agency and Employment Service members. Activists should be organising meetings for strikers.
Phone the national hotline on 0113 200 5325/5326 or local strikers on 0845 377 2403. E-mail [email protected]