Civil service workers, like all public sector workers, face endemic low pay – contrary to government and media propaganda. A quarter of the PCS union’s members are on £15,000 a year or less.
The government’s attacks on pay are making it harder for them to get by.
Jayne Pinder, Jacqui Murray and Vicki Searle are all PCS reps at Revenue & Customs in Liverpool.
Jacqui told Socialist Worker, “The main issue we are facing is office closures, but our pay deal has been delayed so we have had no pay rise this year, and we are likely to get a crappy one.
“There are a lot of young workers at the call centre in Liverpool who are paid not much above the minimum wage and are working in bad conditions.”
Jayne said, “We have come off worse because of the abolition of the 10p tax band. Everything is very tight at the moment, with a mortgage and rising petrol prices.”
“I have just moved in with my boyfriend, who is also a civil service worker,” added Jacqui. “So we have both been hit by the 10p tax rate abolition, lack of a pay rise, and we also can’t claim tax credits.
“I feel I am being done over in at least five different ways.”
“Most of our staff are the low AA grades,” said Vicki. “They are not on a high salary, and many have to continue to live with their parents.
“But they are committed to winning better pay and conditions, even if that includes industrial action.”
“The members support us 100 percent,” said Jacqui. “Things are so bad they’ll do whatever it takes.”
Louise Sanders is the PCS branch secretary of the Vosa department responsible for MOT testing. Workers there have struck over pay and are fighting privatisation.
Louise told Socialist Worker, “Civil service workers at Vosa have had a 10 percent cut in pay in real terms over the last few years.
“If you are earning £60,000 then maybe you can afford that, but when you’re on just over £10,000 you can’t. It seems that if you’re at the top of the tree, then you’re alright, but if you’re at the bottom you’re having trouble.
“Members are now shopping at Aldi and Lidl, where previously they’d go to Marks & Spencer. Instead of buying Kingsmill bread they’re buying value loaves.
“Everything’s going up, except the wages we need to put food on the table. People are also worried they might not have a job as the government sells us off.
“It wants the MOT testing of buses and trucks put into the private sector. But we all know what happens when things go from the public to the private sector.”
Vince Maple, the assistant secretary of the PCS Identity and Passport Services (IPS) group, said, “We are the victims of inflation, not its cause. Consultants on over £4 a minute are telling us how to do our job. Many people in IPS are on just over £10,000 a year.
“This grinds people down. We deserve respect for the job we do for the public. There are members, government employees, who are paid so little they claim the government’s own tax credits.
“It’s a nonsense and people are saying enough is enough.”