Socialist Worker

Civil service workers fight pay cap and jobcentre closures

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2570

Protest at Marsham Street in London

Protest at Marsham Street in London (Pic: PCS)

Civil service workers at government offices across Britain took action last Friday—pay day—to demand an end to the public sector pay cap.

It comes as their PCS union prepares to launch an indicative ballot over pay to see if its membership is prepared to take action against the cap.

PCS members held actions at some 37 civil service offices across Britain, with big protests in Liverpool, Salford and Cumbernauld.

Public sector pay has been capped at a 1 percent increase every year since 2010. That’s an effective pay cut year on year that has cost some workers as much as £3,500.

One PCS rep told Socialist Worker, “People are really disgruntled at work. They’re fed up about pay, but it’s not just about that. It’s also about some jobs getting regraded, others getting stuck with not enough training, not enough progression.

“There’s a big groundswell of dissatisfaction”.

She explained how the pay campaign had struck a chord among union members in her workplace.

“We had a members’ meeting over the issue recently. I said we’ve got to get a good turnout in this ballot and people just ran with it.

“One person said we’ve got to strike for a week to hit them where it hurts.”

The ballot will be an opportunity to show that workers are up for a fight to smash low pay.

In every office PCS members must work to get the highest possible vote for action and the biggest possible turnout.

It has to be a stepping stone towards a real ballot for a national strike across the civil service.

West London action will challenge office closure

Workers at a jobcentre in Southall, west London, were set to strike on Tuesday of next week against the closure of their office.

Members of the PCS union will walk out as part of a fight to stop the “unfair removal of a vital and important service”.

The closure is part of a national attack on workers and offices across the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Workers have already struck against jobcentre closures in Sheffield, Merseyside and North Tyneside.

Nationwide strikes across the DWP can halt closures.

The PCS union has called on Department for Work and Pensions management to halt its planned jobcentre closure plan, after another blunder for the department.

Workers arriving at Bridge House jobcentre in Blyth, near Newcastle, last week were confronted with a bailiff’s notice on the front door.

The landlord of the site, had posted the notice to advise that bailiffs can enter and “repossess” the building.

The department had originally planned to close Bridge House, but reconsidered its decision on 10 August.

This incident with the bailiffs has simply created more confusion and uncertainty for the 27 workers at the site.

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