Socialist Worker

Fury in Newport as workers pledge to fight passport office closure

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2223

A wave of anger has swept through Newport, South Wales, at the government’s announcement that the Passport Office in the city is to close.

This could slash up to 300 jobs in an area that has been hard-hit by the economic destruction of the last 30 years.

The Tories also want to close 34 interview offices around Britain, which will threaten many more jobs.

The PCS civil service workers’ union sprang into immediate action to organise opposition to the closure after the announcement.

It held a 300-strong protest meeting on Monday, which called for a march in the city this Saturday.

The union is also to discuss organising strikes to hit back at the plans.

“There is a mood of resistance in Newport,” said Paul McGoay, the PCS president in the Identity and Passport Service, who chaired Monday’s meeting.

“There is massive support from the public for keeping the office open.

“There were a number of them at the meeting plus almost everyone from the office itself. The call for a demonstration on Saturday came from the floor.

“Before the meeting, the chief executive of the department tried to make a further announcement in the office.

“But people heckled and booed her before decamping to the PCS meeting.

“The upsurge from members shows the anger and willingness to fight among people.

“The union will oppose these cuts industrially and politically.

“They do not need to be made, as there is £120 billion in tax evaded, uncollected and avoided. Newport and Wales are crying out for investment, not cuts.”

The closure plans are having a big political impact.

Paul Flynn, the Newport West Labour MP, has called for a “powerful, intelligent, united campaign” to save the office.

He added, “Newport and Wales must speak with one voice. Together, strong and determined, we will stop this.”

The first minister of Wales, Labour’s Carwyn Jones, has said he will raise the issue with David Cameron.

Public support is important. It means workers are spearheading a wider rebellion against Tory cuts.

However, action by workers in the office, across the passport service and across the working class movement will be crucial in forcing back the Tories.

The PCS will need to keep up the momentum and move quickly to strikes and direct action to save the jobs.

Protest, 10.30am, Saturday 16 October, Westgate Square, Newport

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Tue 12 Oct 2010, 18:13 BST
Issue No. 2223
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