‘THE STRIKE has been brilliant,’ said civil servant Kate Douglas from the picket line in Oxford on Tuesday. She went on: ‘We have had a lot of support from claimants who went in and gave the management hell. An Oxford postal worker who is taking part in their stoppage came to our picket line to bring greetings.’
Kate was one of tens of thousands of civil servants, members of the PCS union, who struck against low pay on Tuesday and Wednesday. It wasn’t just the militant offices that walked out. Jagtar Singh, chair for PCS London & Eastern Region prisons service, told Socialist Worker, ‘This has been a good day. This is our second strike action. The mood of people is that they want to do something. Management’s offer to us is terrible. They have imposed 1 percent on us. They are already hinting that it could be 0.5 percent next year.’
Management were clearly out to demoralise the strikers. ‘Management have opened some offices and are making a big show of it, but in reality they are not offering a service and telling people to come back on Thursday,’ said Martin John from Sheffield.
The first round of official strike action took place in February. Despite the two-month delay before the second strike, the mood had not dampened among civil servants.
Phil Pardoe reported from his picket line, ‘The strike was as good in London this time as the previous one in February. Some places were even better. Management expected it to be worse. They are really pissed off that it wasn’t.’ And it wasn’t just in London that the strike was solid. ‘Most places on Merseyside are shut,’ said Dave Owens from Liverpool. ‘Bootle and Everton job centres are closed. The Everton pensions centre is shut. ‘The mood is still there amongst people.’
Forty people picketed outside the Office for National Statistics in Southport. Dean Rogers is the PCS national officer for Office for National Statistics. He explained how the strike was fuelling wider militancy: ‘Some 200 people have joined PCS in the last month. ‘The strike in the Office for National Statistics has gone very well. PCS and Prospect union members have struck together, meaning two thirds of the workforce is out.’
Mark Serwotka, the left wing general secretary of the PCS union, was very pleased with the strength of feeling shown on the picket lines:
‘Early reports are confirming that members are incredibly solid. This shows the employers that members are determined to get a just settlement. This strike shows that civil servants have had enough and are prepared to stand up to be treated properly.’
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