British Council workers on strike. Photo: Craig Worswick
British Council workers on strike. Photo: Craig Worswick

Craig Worswick, PCS Secretary Greater Manchester (personal capacity)

British Council workers in PCS union, based in the UK and internationally, took strike action on 15-17 June.

Escalating previous action on 24-25 March, workers are hoping to halt a mad dash to redundancies by their bosses, and to stop the privatisation of parts of the British Council.

The British Council oversees cultural and educational relationships between the UK and other countries, while maintaining an arms-length link to the UK government. Films and projects promoting LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, local democracy and the English language are just some of the tasks overseen by this small body.

During the pandemic, the British Council was granted a loan on punitive terms from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, a UK government department, in order to survive while other sources of income were suspended. The terms have not been released, but bosses are citing this as the reason they won’t negotiate seriously with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS).

On 15 June, a rally at Parliament attracted significant in-person and online support from MPs. On 16 June, a rally and march of British Council workers was held to publicise the dispute and exert pressure on the bosses.

Supporters from other PCS branches, including Socialist Party members, as well as from Manchester TUC, attended the picket and rally to back up the strike. The fight continues.