Britain: Solid two-day civil service strike shows anger of PCS members

PCS members have demonstrated their anger at the attack on their Civil Service Compensation Scheme by staging a solid two-day strike that has affected courts, passport offices, jobcentres, tax offices and many other government services.

On Monday 8th & Tuesday 9th March 2010, over 200,000 workers in the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) took strike action across Britain against vicious attacks on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS – a redundancy payment agreement). The New Labour Government wants to tear up the CSCS, a contractual agreement, in preparation for an onslaught on jobs and services across the civil service. They want to get rid of the CSCS so they can sack hundreds of thousands of hard working civil servants on the cheap! The strikes were solidly supported and further action has been called on 24th March. Below, Socialist Party member and PCS National Vice-President reports on the strikes in a personal capacity. For more information, see here.

In Cardiff the Welsh Assembly was suspended for two days as Labour and Plaid Cymru assembly members refused to cross PCS picket lines.

Picketing throughout the country was strong, reflecting the determination of low-paid workers to defend their contractual rights on redundancy payments that could see them loss tens of thousands of pounds, up to a third of their entitlement, as the government prepares the way for job cuts and privatisation on the cheap.

Whichever party wins the general election aims to make working people pay for the crisis caused by the banks and the unrestrained free markets by massive job cuts and privatisation.

PCS contrast the way ministers refused to act against obscene bankers bonuses and MPs’ "golden goodbyes" because they were "contractual rights" with the way they intend ripping up the contracts of their own low-paid employees.

In negotiations PCS proved the savings required by Brown could be made while protecting civil servants contractual rights, Cabinet Office negotiators, on salaries as high as £280,000 (one of them is a multi-millionaire privatiser) said it was not just about "savings" but the need to show civil servants were "worse off".

The government and Cabinet Office are at the centre of the disgraceful lies appearing in the worst elements of the tabloid press that claim civil servants enjoy "feather-bedded" conditions and "gold-plated pensions".

At well attended rallies in all major towns and cities members heard national speakers say that unless the minister is prepared to re-open negotiations on the basis of an improved offer then PCS will continue to make March a month of disruption, with further actions, legal action and a national overtime ban.

If the government is not prepared to negotiate then not only will the campaign continue but PCS will make sure every civil servant, particularly those in marginal Labour seats, will be made fully aware who is attacking their rights, jobs and services.

PCS members are determined to stick together to win a settlement that secures their contractual rights and they deserve the support of the whole trade union movement in this struggle.

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March 2010