Socialist Worker

Strikes by civil service workers from London to Cardiff

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2356

Musical picket at Euston Tower in London

Musical picket at Euston Tower in London


Civil service workers formed noisy pickets across London and the south east yesterday, Wednesday, as they struck against job cuts, and attacks on pay and conditions.

Workers in the PCS union at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are taking part in joint regional strikes around the country this week. They are also joined by the Valuation Office Authority (VOA).

Members in jobcentres and tax offices have walked out across the country.

Striking tax workers at Euston Tower in London played guitar and sang to catch the attention of passers-by.

Dave Plummer, a worker at Euston Tower, told Socialist Worker, “The DWP and HMRC are told to attack the weakest and we don’t want to do it.”

Many picket lines received solidarity visits from workers in other unions. For instance several Unison members came to Euston Tower, while many pickets in Brighton were joined by members of the GMB.

Dave said, “We need joint strikes. There’s a lot of solidarity between union members, if not between union leaders.”

The picket line at Euston Tower was also joined by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) and Benefits Justice Campaign. They joined some striking workers in an occupation of the reception at the nearby Atos offices.

At midday Mark Serwotka addressed a rally of supporters and striking workers. He said, “We will carry on all our efforts to get other unions to join us.”

He said that if other unions join, “We can think big and stop what the government is doing”

At their annual conference last month the PCS voted to go on strike nationally at the end of June.

Strikers at the rally debated whether this should be a half day or a whole day. People also discussed whether the PCS should join the teachers’ unions the NUT and NASUWT on 27 June.

Serwotka said the PCS will be holding consultations at union branches to decide the tactics. He said, “We have to move to the next phase and make it harder hitting”

Today, Thursday, workers went on strike in Wales and the South West.

Marianne Owens, a HMRC worker in Cardiff and member of PCS NEC, spoke to Socialist Worker.

“The strikes today are really well attended. But I’m in a fairly solid workplace and it’s getting increasingly difficult to organise strikes,” she said.

“There’s a danger of people getting demoralised when they look back to the 30 November strikes.

“HMRC has lost 37,000 staff since 2005 and there are plans to lose a further 10,000. We’re really short staffed and have not had a pay rise in the last two years, and when we got one it was below inflation. We’re asked to do more and more for less and less.” 


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News
Thu 6 Jun 2013, 16:52 BST
Issue No. 2356
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