Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16456
Solidly supported walkout, reports PCS
A half-day walkout by tens of thousands of Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members this afternoon - 5th April - has been very solidly supported as workers showed their anger at imposed cuts to their pay, pensions and working conditions.
The PCS has asked for central talks with ministers and senior officials but the government has refused.
A 24-hour strike in the Home Office and former UK Border Agency, planned for Monday 8th April but postponed after a legal challenge, will now be escalated to a week-long series of walkouts across various parts of the department in a fortnight's time.
Around 55,000 of the union's members in HMRC will hold a half-day strike on the morning of Monday 8 April, as previously announced.
Some of the PCS's reports from today include:
- Jobcentres and benefits offices around the UK were either closed or offering very limited service, with some reports of managers phoning round claimants at the last minute to rearrange appointments.
- At the Department for Work and Pensions and Identity and Passport Services offices in Northgate in Glasgow, hundreds of staff all walked out together and were met by the union's national president Janice Godrich.
- National Museums of Scotland closed. World Museum and Tate in Liverpool closed their doors early and escorted visitors out before 1pm.
- Warrington County Court closed after 100% support from the union's members.
- Large DWP pensions centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, mass of cars all left the site at the same time and staff streamed out through the gates.
- At the Rural Payments Agency in Carlisle, more than 100 members of staff all gathered in the reception before walking out together behind their union branch banner.
- At the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission in Birkenhead, 600 staff walked out of the office leaving it virtually empty.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "These walkouts have been very solidly supported and show the depth of anger hard-working public servants feel at having their living standards cut.
"We warned the Home Office and UKBA that their belligerent approach would only serve to escalate the dispute and we are now planning a longer series of strikes that will cause even more disruption.
"These walkouts are part of an ongoing campaign of industrial action and protests to put pressure on a government that is refusing to even talk to us."
From a PCS press release
Andy Cooper, PCS rep at the Maritime Coastguard Agency HQ Southampton, said: "Tens of thousands of our members were out on budget day.
"We need to keep it going. Keeping it in the public consciousness. Keep going until we are listened to.
"We can't give up because the alternative is to allow public services to disintegrate".