Socialist Worker

Civil service workers fight over poverty pay and jobs

Issue No. 2578

Workers at HMRC in Coventry join the day of action

Workers at HMRC in Coventry join the day of action (Pic: PCS)

Civil service workers in the PCS union protested outside offices across the country on Tuesday—pay day—against poverty pay.

The protests were part of the PCS’s campaign to break the 1 percent public sector pay cap that most civil service workers still endure.

The cap, which has held increases to 1 percent a year since 2010, means some workers have had real terms pay cuts of up to £3,500.

The PCS is asking its members whether they’d be prepared to strike to beat the cap in a consultative ballot that ends on Monday.

The vote could lead to a real strike ballot in the future.

PCS activists who have used it as an opportunity to build support for action and recruit to the union have found an enthusiastic response.

Nick Clark

The PCS union’s DWP group executive committee (GEC) met last week as workers at Sheffield Eastern Avenue Jobcentre launched a four-week strike.

They will be joined next Monday by workers at Plymouth Old Tree Court service centre.

Plymouth is the first large benefit processing site to ballot for action over office closures.

One of the PCS’s demands in the campaign is a properly funded social security system.

There have been successful ballots in Hoylake in Merseyside, Whitley Bay in North Tyneside and Southall in west London.

But the first two strikes were short lived because of the timetable for closure.

Members in Southall felt a sufficient DWP presence was being left in the area to meet their demands.

The closure programme will inevitably lead to redundancies with processing sites in Llanelli and Poole particularly at risk.

There was recognition at the GEC that national strikes will be needed to stop the office closure programme and the assault on services.

But it was also recognised that work needs to be done to build support for action before this can be called.

Dave Owens, PCS DWP GEC (personal capacity)

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