Socialist Worker

Angry pickets on Civil Service workers' strike

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2425

Early morning pickets at Plymouth Land Registry

Early morning pickets at Plymouth Land Registry (Pic: Dave Franklin)


Thousands of civil service workers walked out of offices today, Wednesday, on a 24-hour strike over pay.

There were strong pickets at museums, job centres, tax offices and government departments.

The workers, in the PCS union, have had pay frozen for two years and now face a pay cap of 1 percent.

At the Passport Office in central London people signed up to join the union on the picket line.

Strikers at the National Gallery in London

Strikers at the National Gallery in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)


“The pay freeze is ridiculous,” said Passport Officer worker Sultan. “The price of bread is going up, energy bills are going up but our income is not. With winter coming people are going to have to choose between heating and eating.”

Some 25 pickets set up outside a jobcentre in Birmingham.

Sharica, a health and safety rep, told Socialist Worker, “The fact we haven’t had a pay rise is adding to already low morale, and the stress is affecting our work.

“Add to that we have managers putting pressure on jobcentre workers to sanction people.”

There was also a strong turn out of 24 on the picket line at Garston call centre in Merseyside, where workers began a five day strike on Monday.

They are opposing plans to shut down the centre. Some 800 Department for Work and Pensions jobs have already gone in Merseyside in recent years, with eight offices closing.

At the National Gallery in London, striking PCS members protested outside the opening of the Rembrandt exhibition.

As well as fighting low pay, staff at the gallery are battling the threat of privatisation.

One PCS member told Socialist Worker, “I’m a 52 year old woman and I’m running between three jobs.

“One job is a zero hours contract with G4S. I’ve come to expect the bad treatment. But at the gallery it is different. That is why I do not want it to be privatised.

“I’ve lived in 11 countries since leaving Poland when I was 18 and, although I’ve only been here three years, I can see things are getting worse and worse.

“But the workers can win. Our power is our solidarity.”

Workers spoke of being inspired by the NHS strike on Monday, and the need to unite with other unions to win the fight over low pay.

Paul McGoay, a PCS rep at the Passport Office, said, “The government’s attacks on us are a class attack and they need a class response.”

“We need to have more strikes in the run up to the general election next year,” said Paul Williams, PCS national executive member (pc).

“Other unions have to sit down with us and co-ordinate strikes – we have to fight until we win.”

Support the Garston strike:  Messages of support and donations should be sent to: PCS DWP Liverpool Branch via Leeds@pcs.org.uk and Cheques made out to ‘PCS DWP Liverpool Branch Hardship fund’ via PCS 3rd floor, Jack Jones House, Islington, Liverpool L3 8EG
Rally to support the PCS strike outside parliament

Rally to support the PCS strike outside parliament (Pic: Socialist Worker)


 


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