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Posted on 4 February 2015 at 10:15 GMT

PCS members at ICO in Wilmslow on strike, photo by Matt Kilsby

PCS members at ICO in Wilmslow on strike, photo by Matt Kilsby   (Click to enlarge)

ICO staff take strike action over pay

Matt Kilsby

On Tuesday 3rd February PCS union members at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in Wilmslow, Cheshire, began a two day strike over pay. The dispute has been sparked by three senior executives awarding themselves an average 11% increase at the same time as denying the rest of the staff a decent pay rise.

Clearly misjudging the mood of the workforce, management offered an increase of 3% to everyone else, which was overwhelmingly rejected by 98.9% of the membership at a meeting convened by the PCS branch.

Workers at the ICO monitor and enforce rights on information access, having been set up in 1984.
In the year 2000 Tony Blair's government passed the Freedom of Information Act; Without a hint of irony, Blair later described those laws as one of his greatest regrets.

Under that Act, the union requested details about the process for the executive pay awards but has been told no records are available. This is completely astonishing given the size of the increases that they have awarded themselves.

One striking worker told me:

"It is grossly unfair that management can award themselves whacking great pay rises at the same time as our pay has stagnated over the last few years. Comparatively, we are some of the poorest paid workers in the civil service. Meanwhile, we're told that the economy is recovering and the richest in society are getting richer and richer. Well, we're on strike - in George Osborne's constituency - to demand our fair share!"

Should the two day strike fail to force management back to the negotiating table, the PCS branch will be looking to escalate the action over the coming weeks.

Messages of support should be sent to icobranchpcs@gmail.com.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 4 February 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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