Socialist Worker

Civil service strikes - from job centres to Stonehenge

Issue No. 2356

Strikers at the Tate Modern in London last week

Strikers at the Tate Modern in London last week (Pic: Alan Kenny)


Around 135,000 members of the PCS civil service workers’ union were set to strike this week.

They work in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Valuations Office Agency (VOA).

The strikes are part of a three month national campaign over cuts to pay, pension, jobs and working conditions.

The government has slashed 20,000 jobs from the DWP since 2010, and it plans yet more cuts. 

The strikes will highlight this and make links with benefit justice issues.

Jobcentres across north east England and Yorkshire and Humber region began their strikes on Monday of this week.

Jane Aitchison, a DWP worker in Leeds, told Socialist Worker, “The strike has been very well supported. Two offices here have had their best turnout ever.”

CWU, Unite, Unison and UCU union members joined pickets in Leeds. Across the region other trade unionists visited to show solidarity.

Jane said, “The common theme is people want strikes together. They’re very grateful for what the PCS is doing.”

The government plans to close all 281 HMRC walk-in tax advice centres in Britain. 

Jane said, “People will feel a huge drop in their ability to get information.”

The action this week follows a series of strikes by workers in the culture sector.

Attractions

Visitors were turned away from many of Britain’s cultural attractions as PCS members struck on Thursday of last week.

This was  the first time that PCS members in Culture and Sport had taken action as a sector. 

In London there were well supported strikes at the National, National Portrait and Tate Galleries. 

Tate Liverpool was shut to the public. Their branch vice chair Louise Waller said, “We are campaigning for a living wage. Many members have to take second jobs just to make ends meet.

“Cuts are damaging to every­one’s experience of culture, not just to employees.”

Striking workers and their supporters formed a human chain round the Museum of Liverpool.

Workers also walked out at the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, British Museum, Wallace Collection, Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

Sport England workers and staff at Stonehenge in Wiltshire were out too.

Workers in the Department for Transport, Department for Education, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Land Registry, and Business, Innovation and Skills also walked out.

The joint regional strikes by the DWP, HMRC and VOA groups are a real step up in the campaign against cuts to pay, jobs and conditions.


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Tue 4 Jun 2013, 17:42 BST
Issue No. 2356
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