Socialist Worker

Week-long strikes at Equality and Human Rights Commission roll into Cardiff

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2556

Strikers on the picket line in Cardiff

Strikers on the picket line in Cardiff (Pic: Joe Redmond )


Workers at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) struck in Cardiff this week.

The PCS union members are fighting against budget cuts and redundancies.

Workers at EHRC offices across Britain have taken turns at holding week-long strikes after bosses sacked eight striking workers by email in February.

This week’s walkout in Cardiff comes after two successful strikes in Glasgow and London.

One London striker told Socialist Worker that the strike had been well supported.

“We’ve had reps and members on the picket line and lots of other people coming down to offer their support,” the worker said. “People going into the building working for other organisations have been putting a lot of money into the bucket for the strike fund.

“We’ve also had big donations from other unions.”

The striker added that it is vital for supporters to donate to the strike fund.

“Members are strong in their support for the strike, but they are also suffering financially,” the worker said.

Agency

The EHRC workers have been fighting a 25 percent cut to government agency’s budget since late last year. They stepped up their fight after the sackings in February.

The eight were issued compulsory redundancy notices despite the fact that there are now 47 vacancies being advertised inside EHRC.

They have also been denied the opportunity to find an alternative job in another government department, despite normal civil service redundancy procedures.

Many strikers feel the sackings were an attack on the union as four of the eight sacked workers were union reps.

Speaking to the PCS union conference last week, Department for Transport worker John Gamble said that every civil service worker had to support the EHRC strikers.

“We’ve got to expose EHRC bosses for the hypocrites they are,” he said pointing to the fact that EHRC plays a role in monitoring workplace rights.

“They’re content to see trade union activists thrown on the scrapheap.”

Donate to the fighting fund at bit.ly/2msNH1X

Walkout at job centre in Sheffield resists closure

Workers at a Sheffield job centre were set to strike against the planned closure of their office this Thursday.

The Sheffield Eastern Avenue job centre is one of several Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offices earmarked for closure under Tory plans.

Workers say the closure would badly affect benefit claimants

The walkout comes after delegates to PCS union conference last week debated how to resist closures in the DWP and HM Revenue and Customs.

Delegates passed a motion calling on the union to organise and coordinate industrial action against job cuts and office closures “where there is a willingness among members to take such action”.

Some activists worry that the Tories’ Trade Union Act will make organising action difficult without a campaign to strengthen branches first.

But Kate Douglas from the DWP Bucks and Oxon said the best way to build the union was by organising industrial action.

“We know from experience that when we fight we grow,” she told the conference.


Union backs Stand Up To Racism 

Delegates at the PCS union conference last week overwhelmingly backed affiliating to Stand Up To Racism (SUTR).

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka had supported the move at an SUTR fringe meeting the day before. “We are for freedom of movement,” he said. “Not just freedom for workers—we are for freedom of movement.”

The same conference strengthened the union’s position on trans rights.

Delegates also saw off an attempt to disaffiliate the union from the Abortion Rights campaign.


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