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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 April 2007

Civil service pay

London strikers close passport office

STRIKING PCS members shut down the head office of the Identity and Passport Service on 30 March in London. Management put up a sign cancelling all appointments for the day.

Paula Mitchell

Pickets were confident and resolute. Vince Maple, group assistant secretary for IPS, explained:

"We are on strike because of the imposition of below-inflation pay rises. There's 2,000-plus members on strike in IPS and about 1,600 in the MOD. All the rest of PCS are taking action short of strike today. It'll be a good day on our picket today - the former chair of the branch always brings his guitar!

"There are 700 civil servants at this office, but because it's the HQ there's also around 200 consultants and 'interims'. Some of them are paid up to 2,100 a day - that's 4.86 a minute! By the time you've read this interview they've earned 4.86. The pay rise for a grade AA for a whole year is the equivalent to 68 minutes' work for a consultant.

"This is our third day of strike action in six months, so for some of the lowest-paid it's a lot of money to lose. But members have stayed solidly behind it. We all know that if we're to deliver a 'world class standard service', as we are constantly told, it entails our pay at least keeping up with inflation.

"Today really is building up for 1 May. All the PCS should be out on May Day, which should be very good.

"Members know this won't be won by one-day strikes alone. It takes a proper campaign. There's a political campaign as well. A lot of members are talking about calling for a five-day strike in the summer - that would have a big impact in the passport office. We as the group executive will be driven by what members say.

"Mark (Serwotka) and Janice (Godrich) are extremely supportive. No one wants to go on strike and the national leadership know that."

Vince also spoke about the Labour Party. He sees John McDonnell's leadership campaign as: "make or break time. If he doesn't win, that's it - there's a lot of us that will be leaving the Labour Party." Along with other pickets, Vince signed the declaration of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party and hopes to get along to the CNWP conference on 12 May.

ON 30 March, thousands of PCS members working in the Land Registry and other government departments, started a month of industrial action short of strike action. This is part of their pay campaign, after a below-inflation pay rise in 2006.

Dave Lunn, PCS chair, Birkenhead (Rosebrae) Land Registry branch, personal capacity

Reports from the Treasury hint that the 2007 pay offer is likely to be less than 2% (while the RPI is currently running over 4.5%). This will once more amount to a pay cut in real terms and must also be resisted.

The campaign also seeks to change an unfair method of pay calculation in the Land Registry, whereby many members needing to take unpaid domestic leave or taking strike action end up being deducted significantly more than colleagues in the majority of other government departments.

This action is also linked to the PCS national campaign in defence of pay, jobs and public services, which saw over 200,000 PCS members taking strike action on 31 January.

PCS members take great pride in the quality services that they provide to the public and it is demoralising when the employer demands more and more from them while at the same time cutting their pay.

The day before the action was due to take place, Land Registry management issued an email to staff threatening them with disciplinary action. This is despite the action being called as a result of a legal ballot and our members being protected by employment law.

Although members are understandably concerned about management's bullying tactics they have still enthusiastically supported the action.

If management try to follow through on their threats then PCS must respond with the full weight of the national union to defend members and reps.

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In The Socialist 4 April 2007:

Children suffer in low pay Britain

Socialist Party editorial

Iran - Sailors fall victim to imperialist policies

Socialist Party news and analysis

Brown's pension robbery

Blair: No solutions to crime or crowded prisons

Waltham Forest protest - more memorable than Prince Charles!

Commemorating the abolition of the slave trade

Socialist Party reviews

One Life: Ricky Tomlinson

In The Line of Fire

Days of Glory


Take national action to defend education

Labour's market policies damage education

Privilege and privation in our schools

NUS leadership abandon fees fight

PCS takes industrial action

London strikers close passport office

PCS members take industrial action

Anger on Newport picket line

Upbeat London rally

Campaign for a New Workers Party

How to stop the BNP: Build a political alternative

Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Ammanford home care workers march

Frustration at demo delay

We shall not be moved!


Save Sadiq Abakar

Leicester protesters challenge Home Office

Workplace news and analysis

Trade union leaders heckled over inaction

Action needed as Ford bosses close Leamington plant

Celebs fail to save Burberry

Greenwich: "We've got to strike"

Burslem postal workers strike again

Northern Ireland

British government and local parties retreat on water charges

We Won't Pay Campaign


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