Mark Emmerson, Teesside Socialist Party
Members of the civil service union PCS, Fire Brigades Union, Communication Workers Union, general unions GMB and Unite and public sector union Unison attended a march and rally organised by the Northern Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and the local PCS branches.
The event, held on Stockton High Street on 21 October, was organised in response to the government’s proposals to strip 650 civil service jobs out of the heart of Teesside, an area that has already seen thousands of jobs lost as part of the failed austerity plan led by the Tories and the coalition before that.
The event was also used as part of the wider campaign to smash the public sector pay cap.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, Clare Williams, Unison regional secretary, Rehana Adam, GMB, Davie Howe, FBU and Beth Farhat, NTUC regional secretary, spoke alongside local Labour MPs.
The plan to close the tax offices in Stockton and Middlesbrough is part of the Tories’ wider plan to close hundreds of tax offices across the UK and concentrate operations in a handful of larger offices.The impact will leave many local communities bereft of quality jobs and a massive loss of income into the local communities where PCS members live and work.
PCS believes that as a result of these plans, it will be much more difficult to tackle the £120 billion tax gap, money desperately needed to fund other public services.
PCS members will also be impacted as thousands of jobs losses are expected and those that stay will be required to travel to new locations adding excessive hours per day in extra travelling, and at their own expense. PCS members in Stockton will lose £400 a month and travel an extra two hours each way to attend their job, a job that many have dedicated their lives to as they serve the public!