Socialist Worker

Government workers striking over low pay

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2111

A number of government departments have seen hard-hitting action in the last few days as the PCS civil service workers’ union launched a week of action over low pay.

Some 10,500 PCS members at the Home Office and the Border and Immigration Agency struck on Friday of last week.

Clayeon McKenzie, the chair of greater London Home Office branch, told Socialist Worker, “Members are angry at this, the second year of pay imposition. People are starting to feel the pinch, even when buying their day to day necessities, such as food and utilities.

“They feel they had to strike. Members have been buoyed by the strike action by local government workers.

“We need a strike with everyone coming out across the public sector.”

Neil McCarthy, a PCS rep in central London, said, “Home Office workers are getting a ‘cost of living’ increase of just 1.5 percent at a time when prices are soaring above that.

“The total amount of money on the staff pay rise in 2008 was £14 million. The amount spent on consultants in the Home Office in 2006-7 was £118 million!

“This is part of action across the PCS involving a wide range of departments. We need to change the Treasury pay limits to departments. Action is taking place at the same time as the strike by local government workers. The public sector needs to fight together.”

Around 700 PCS members at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) also struck for 48-hours from 7pm on Friday of last week. The strike hit emergency 999 distress calls and operations in Britain’s 19 rescue coordination centres.

This followed three days of strikes that members in the MCA have already taken this year. Starting salaries for staff are just £12,097. The most experienced workers face pay “rises” of just 1 percent this year.

Workers at the Valuation Office Agency walked out on both Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and PCS members at the Land Registry walked out at 10.15 am on Friday of last week.

PCS members at the Scottish government have also narrowly voted for strike action on a 54 percent turn-out.

Workers at the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) were set to strike from Wednesday to Friday of this week over job cuts and other issues. July is the busiest month for passport applications.

Paul McGoay, the PCS IPS group president, told Socialist Worker, “The mood among members is good. We are very disgruntled with the potential job cuts people are facing in the Glasgow office and fearful about our own futures.

“We are building for the three-day industrial action across the agency. The strike will hit a number of sites, including seven major processing centres in London, Peterborough, Newport, Liverpool, Durham, Glasgow, and Belfast.

“This will have a major impact on the business. The IPS is also the department tasked with providing ID cards, which the government is spending billions on. We will not let this have a detrimental effect on our members.”

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Article information

Tue 22 Jul 2008, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2111
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