Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/642/10412
Fight Passport Office closure
PCS members were shocked on 8 October by the announcement that Newport Passport office would close next year. But the mood changed to determination to fight the closure as they received support from across PCS and the trade union movement. The public has been appalled at the decision which would have a detrimental impact on Newport with the loss of 300 jobs.
Katrine Williams, PCS Wales chair
A mass meeting of members was held on 11 October to start the campaign off with a bang. All the PCS members from the passport office turned up to hear speakers from their union and to get involved in the union campaign to stop the closure.
John McInally, PCS vice-president, the Identity and Passport service group president Paul McGoay and group secretary Alan Brown gave a fighting lead at the meeting. Other unions like CWU, UCU and RMT showed their solidarity.
PCS has called a demonstration against the closure for 16 October, assembling at 11am at St Woolas to march down Stow Hill, Newport.
Politicians from all four main parties in Wales have also lined up to oppose the closure. Over 2,000 people have already signed the online petition against the closure within two days of it being set up.
Coming hot on the heels of the Ryder Cup, which we were falsely promised would bring huge benefits to Newport, the closure is a kick in the teeth to communities that have still not recovered from the closures of Llanwern steel works and other workplaces.
The anger of members was visibly demonstrated to senior managers who attempted to justify the decision but were unable to answer any of the questions that PCS members raised. They also refused to apologise to the union for saying that PCS had leaked the news of the closure, when it was clearly their own managers who had done so.
The Tory secretary of state for Wales Cheryl Gillan has attacked PCS in the media for the leak to divert attention from the actual closure announcement. But this tactic has failed miserably.
With the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement on 20 October - it is vital to give a strong, industrial response to this announcement and a clear message to the Con-Dem government that we will not accept cuts.
This threatened closure clearly shows what the cuts will mean. But more importantly it shows that if the unions give a determined response to oppose the cuts it will increase workers' confidence to fight back.
The government's cuts are not inevitable nor necessary. PCS has put forward a clear alternative, including fully resourcing the HMRC to collect the unpaid and evaded tax and to close the tax loopholes which would stop tax avoidance.
A colossal £123 billion a year is wasted by not doing this - two thirds of the budget deficit. So we are fighting for investment in jobs and services which our communities need.
We will be doing all we can to build support for the PCS members in the Identity and Passport Service and the demonstration on Saturday. This is as well as mobilising the strongest turnout of the working class for the Wales demonstration against the cuts in Cardiff on 23 October.
In The Socialist 14 October 2010:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news