Socialist Worker

Fightback Thursday: reports round-up

Issue No. 2098

PCS pickets in Watford

PCS pickets in Watford

In Sussex teachers report successful picketing in the Burgess Hill/Haywards Heath area of West Sussex closed all four local schools.

In Loughborough Mike Thompson reports that a small picket braved the bad weather and pressure from their management to picket at Loughborough college. One of the pickets told Socialist Worker that they saw this as the starting point for a campaign to rebuilding the union in the college. The pickets said that they intended to go to the NUT organised rally in Leicester later in the day.

In Leeds lecturer pickets were out at Leeds Thomas Danby, Park Lane College, Leeds College of Technology and Leeds College of Art and Design, where the strike is very well supported. A joint rally is being held now in Victoria Gardens outside the Art Gallery, with around 500 people in attendance.

At Exeter College the college Student Union joined staff on their picket lines.

In Portsmouth NUT executive member Keith Gardiner said, “We're two years into this campaign. We've tried to talk to the government. We've sent them papers, we've tried to get them to agree.

“There's a real annoyance and feeling of being let down among teachers. If the government doesn't treat teachers properly there may be more. The union's policy is to ballot for more strikes.

“I'm hoping the government will see the extent of the strength of feeling of teachers.'

In Wales Linda Hall, Flintshire's NUT rep, said, 'Teachers are fed up of being at the bottom of the heap. A lot of teachers did a lot of heart searching over whether to come in today – staying away from school isn't a decision we take lightly.

'But at the moment teachers aren't getting the right pay deal, which is detrimental to pupils because there is a high turnaround among teachers who go off to join other professions.'

In Dorset between 50 and 60 PCS members in the DWP joined the strike in Weymouth – about 75 percent of the union membership. In Bournmouth about half were out, but they were the operational workers. At Poole contact centre about 150 out of 180 were not at work. Up to 300 Land Registry workers in Weymouth were due to walk out for two hours at 1pm.

The NUT held a march of about 100 people from around the county in Dorchester, followed by a meeting of 130 in the Town Hall, which I addressed.

Tim Nichols, PCS regional Cttee Member, DWP branch chair (PC)

I work for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at the Child Support Agency in Kirkcaldy, Fife, where the strike has been extremely well supported. PCS union members are also on strike at job centres and pensions service around the city.

Only a handful of workers went in at the Kirkcaldy office. I would estimate that 90 percent of our members are on strike.

We were on strike for two days in March and support for this strike is at least equal to that – if not stronger. Members are getting increasingly angry as they see their most basic bills go up, and they can see it is the government that is trying to stop them getting the money they need to live on.

We are very pleased that reports from across Scotland show support for the strike is similar to that in Fife.

We're also getting real support from the public. People realise that we aren't only defending our pay, but the essential service we provide.

Steve West, PCS DWP group executive committee (pc)

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