Socialist Worker

Equality and Human Rights Commission workers strike against devastating cuts

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2531

EHRC workers on the picket line in Glasgow

EHRC workers on the picket line in Glasgow (Pic: PCS Scotland)

Civil service workers at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) struck for the second time last week against plans to slash jobs.

The members of the PCS union are fighting bosses’ attempts to push through cuts that will see the EHRC’s budget cut by 25 percent.

The cuts will mean several job losses including 23 compulsory redundancies as part of a restructure. The EHRC has seen its budget reduced by 70 percent since 2010.

One striker told Socialist Worker, “Before this restructure started we had 204 staff. They said they wanted to let 24 people go—24 volunteered to go, but they’re still trying to push another 23 out.

“So that means we lose a quarter of our staff in Scotland, Wales and England in the space of a few months.

“We have powers to represent victims of discrimination and human rights abuses,” she added. “But the cuts mean we have fewer caseworkers.”

The striker explained that in the first round of selection for new posts in the restructure, 72 percent of those from ethnic minorities failed.

So did 43 percent of disabled workers and two thirds of older workers.

“We’re the Equality and Human Rights Commission and we’re failing miserably on equality,” she said.

“We’re thinking of reporting the commission to itself, because the commission is the body that enforces the equality duty.

“So it’s beyond irony that this is happening to our members working at the commission.”

Last week’s strike saw a 100 percent turnout at the office in London and 20 PCS members on the picket line in Manchester.

A Syrian family also joined the picket line in Birmingham, and said they were upset to see the EHRC under attack.

Bosses had to cancel an away day planned for workers in Liverpool on the day of the strike because the action was so strong.

The workers are on action short of strike until the end of this month, and could strike again.

“We were in talks with Acas two weeks ago and nothing was put on the table,” said the striker. “What they called concessions we call minimum statutory requirements.”

Around 160,000 PCS union members were this week coming to the end of a vote over the government imposed changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

This is the money paid when workers are made redundant.

The union also says it is launching a new campaign to fight job cuts.

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