By Socialist Worker reporters across Britain
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Thousands join civil service strike

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Issue 2347
Strikers at a rally in Glasgow
Strikers at a rally in Glasgow

Some 180,000 civil service workers joined a half-day strike against the Tories on last Friday.

The members of the PCS union walked out at 1pm and took to picket lines and rallies across Britain.

The choice of strike day was symbolic. Thousands of civil service workers will today find their salaries reduced as pensions contributions have been increased.

Job centre workers, court staff and others struck for the second time in a month against the below inflation pay cap, increased pensions contributions and attacks on working conditions. There was also a walkout at the family courts.

In Bristol, more than three quarters of workers at the Fishponds Department for Work and Pensions call centre struck. Workers at Bedminster job centre also walked out.

One worker said, “I’m angry at the mess the Tories have made of the system, I’m being forced to ruin lives.”

On the picket line in Oxford
On the picket line in Oxford

Strikers talked about their fears for future generations. “The amount of young people that come in and feel that they have no future at 17 or 18 is shocking,” said one. “Something has to give,” they added.

In London, some 200 strikers massed outside the Cabinet Office on Whitehall and workers downed tools at nearby galleries and set up picket lines.

Among them was a DEFRA worker, who explained, “We need to take effective action to make ourselves heard. Initially I was worried about today’s strike as Friday isn’t always the easiest day to mobilise, but I’m impressed with the turnout.”

Strikers cheered as PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka announced that union members at the Home Office will take part in five days of rolling strikes starting later this month.

The PCS union called today’s strike as part of a three-month programme of action against austerity.

Nigel Green is the secretary of the Hyde Park PCS at the Royal Parks Agency. He told Socialist Worker, “Our strikes are important because this government is clearly going to keep coming at us, and we’ve got to do something.”

“Hopefully the strikes can put a marker down and galvanise other unions to strike.”

At Glasgow’s Northgate benefit centre, site rep and union women’s officer, Claire McInally, joined the walkout.

“We are striking because we feel we have a responsibility to the public, especially people who rely on benefits.

“This is not about us just defending ourselves – it’s about protecting future generations of workers and protecting public services.

“People recognise a day’s pay is nothing compared to what our members and the public will lose if the government gets away with its attacks.”

HM Revenue & Customs workers will strike for half a day on Monday morning, while workers at the Home Office will be out for the whole day.

Send your reports and pictures to [email protected]
Thanks to Julie Sherry, Joshua Brown and Ruairi O’Neill

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