Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/335/5638
Low paid say
"Enough is enough"
UP TO 100,000 low-paid civil servants in job centres and benefit offices (DWP) and the Driving Standards Agency went on strike on 16 and 17 February for better pay.
"I've worked in the DWP for four years" said Patrick from Leytonstone job centre. "The pay has always been poor and the conditions are getting worse. This is the second time I've been on strike and I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it was really worth fighting. On a weekly basis we are verbally abused and physically threatened. Enough is enough."
Civil servants are so low-paid that 20,000 are claiming the benefits they administer! Helen, an admin assistant at Bailey Court JobCentre Plus in Sheffield has ten years' service and is paid less than £12,000 a year.
"One claimant with no qualifications just got a job on higher pay than any of us staff on the picket line", she said.
On the first day of the strike a leaked report gave details of up to 80,000 job losses across the civil service. Janice Godrich, president of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) told the socialist:
"If the report was leaked to frighten people into not supporting the strike it didn't work. The numbers on strike exceeded more than we'd ever seen before in the DWP".
Low pay, job cuts, worsening conditions and declining public services - that's the reality for millions of workers under Blair and New Labour. While big business fat cats are given massive tax breaks of billions of pounds a year, they expect some of the lowest paid workers in the public sector to live on poverty wages.
New Labour are prepared to spend up to £10 billion on war and occupation in Iraq but refuse to give workers a decent wage.
But civil servants have shown that even the lowest paid workers have had enough and are prepared to fight back.
In The Socialist 21 February 2004:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party feature