Socialist Worker

Rising anger at cuts that will hit the most vulnerable

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 1911

HUNDREDS OF workers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) lobbied parliament on Wednesday of last week.

Demonstrators spoke of the rising anger inside the civil service over Gordon Brown’s job cuts and other attacks.

“People feel betrayed and scared, but more angry,” said John Rutter, from north east London.

“The TUC needs to get involved in this,” he added. “There needs to be coordinated action against everything the government’s done, involving local government workers, rail workers and firefighters.

“That would be the best protest against eight years of the way Labour has treated the unions.

“New Labour has given 1.4 percent extra to defence. So the message is, ‘Expect more wars, but no jobs or services’.”

Mike Smith, from Lothian and the Borders in Scotland, spoke of the effect of Brown’s planned job cuts.

“If these job cuts take place pensioners won’t be able to get public services,” he said. “We are under pressure as it is, and there are not enough hours in the day to serve people.

“The pressure is making people sick. People used to think they had some security. But now the government are attacking our salaries, pensions and sickness rights, and are now withdrawing our jobs.”

Pat Maddick, Andrew Jenkins and Gloria Tanner are all PCS union reps at the Swansea pension centre.

They told Socialist Worker, “Morale was already low in our department, but now it’s at rock bottom.

“We’ve been told our pension centre is safe for now. But our future is hanging in the balance.

“Politicians have been using the most detestable words about the civil service being ‘bloated’ and ‘inefficient’.

“They are attacking workers who are totally committed to providing services to the most vulnerable people in society.

“This attack on sickness rights will affect local government workers too. The trade unions have to come together on this, as it affects so many people.

“Low paid civil servants can’t afford to strike. But they’ve been treated so disgracefully they will be striking strongly on Thursday and Friday of next week.”

Fran Heathcote works in Yeovil, Somerset, and is a member of the DWP group executive.

“Brown’s announcement was sickening for civil servants. He described us as ‘waste’, and Labour MPs brayed in support,” she told Socialist Worker.

“I have high hopes that the group executive will talk about how to escalate and broaden the action out to the whole civil service.”


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Features
Sat 24 Jul 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1911
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