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1 June 2011

Workplace news in brief

All out on 30 June!

Over 250,000 civil service union PCS members began voting on 25 May in a ballot for national strike action. The ballot, over cuts to pensions, jobs and pay, was voted for overwhelmingly at the recent PCS conference. It closes on 15 June.

Coordinated action with teaching unions could begin on 30 June.

Postal strike

London postal workers have voted by four to one to strike against plans to close three mail centres and one delivery office in London. Mount Pleasant, Nine Elms, Rathbone Place and East London are under threat. Around 3,500 CWU members could strike unless reassurances are given over job security and management bullying is ended. Anger at these attacks could lead to action spreading more widely.

Housing strike

Housing support workers at the Leeds mental health charity Touchstone were on strike on 27 May. This was the third day of strike action against pay cuts of between 2,000 and 4,000. A year ago, senior management at Touchstone set up job evaluation panels which said that the existing pay levels were correct. But management ignored the results and have tried to force massive pay cuts on frontline staff whilst awarding themselves pay rises.

A Unison member and striking support worker said: "These cuts are not a response to budget cuts. Touchstone's chief executive, Labour councillor Alison Lowe, has said she would choose to make these pay cuts no matter what the wider financial situation."

Ian Pattison

It doesn't add up

A House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts report: "The impact of the 2007-2008 changes to public service pensions" confirms what unions have been saying - that there is no need for public sector workers to be paying in more for their pensions.

The report says: "Government projections suggest that the 2007-08 changes are likely to reduce costs to taxpayers of the pension schemes by 67 billion over 50 years".

Christine Blower, National Union of Teachers (NUT) general secretary, said: "This report shatters the government's case for further cuts in public sector pensions. The Select Committee has confirmed the National Audit Office's verdict that costs are falling and pensions are affordable".

Hackney libraries

Hackney council has decided to cut library staff by 25%. Staff face losing their jobs or having their hours cut. Managers are unaffected and in some cases have been given pay rises. The service in general is being run down - staff suspect that this is to make sure a public consultation exercise comes up with a negative outcome, justifying more cuts.

Union members have unanimously backed a resolution calling for a vote of no confidence in the head of libraries and to take industrial action in defence of services and jobs.