Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/768/16838
The Socialist 5 June 2013 |
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PCS rolling strike programme
Barking Job Centre PCS on strike 5 June 2013, photo Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
On 3 June, a week of rolling strike action in the two largest government departments, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the tax department HMRC, began.
This involves 135,000 workers in a dispute over pay cuts, jobs and working conditions. This action was preceded by strikes in other departments, including the vehicle licensing agency DVLA.
Ronnie Job reports from the Swansea picket line.
For once it was nice weather for the civil service union PCS pickets at the DVLA in Swansea, when I went to give solidarity greetings on behalf of the Swansea trades council and the Socialist Party on 31 May.
PCS members in the Department of Transport and the Land Registry were on strike as part of a programme of departmental action that will see DWP and HMRC members joining later.
Pickets told me that they were striking over a raft of issues. These include:
- Pay - this is the fourth consecutive year that they've been offered no cost of living pay award.
- Privatisation - you can see giant private firms like IBM and Fujitsu muscling in to the public sector in pursuit of profit at the DVLA.
- Job cuts - the decision to close the DVLA regional offices is leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs around the country.
- Attacks on union facilities - one of the pickets at the DVLA was a PCS branch official who's seen his facility time cut by 50% already.
Despite all these, and more, attacks, the pickets were resolute and aware that this is a fight that has to be won.
I've always experienced a good reception on PCS picket lines. The only unfriendly greeting I had was from a visiting Labour MP who made sneering comments about selling 'magazines' (the Socialist). When I offered her one she told me she'd "been there, done that and got the T-shirt".
It was good to see a Labour politician who knows what a picket line is; it's just a shame that the majority of Labour MPs didn't back John McDonnell MP's attempt to defend PCS members' right to strike in the Home Office and Border Agency.
Each of the three pickets the MP had been talking to when I arrived bought a Socialist paper off me.
On 4 June, Hugh Caffrey visited the HMRC picket line in Manchester. Martin Ayres, PCS Salford Revenue branch vice-chair and assistant branch secretary said: "We've had great support today.
"Members are totally opposed to the draconian changes to terms and conditions, and despite the pay freeze most people are prepared to lose a day's pay in support of the PCS-organised action".