Civil servants set to go on strike


Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Civil servants will go on strike today in the latest round of industrial action by public sector workers in protest at Government policies.

Staff in courts, museums, driving test centres, jobcentres, ports and airports across the UK will walk out for 24 hours in a long-running dispute over job losses, pay cuts and pension increases.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said many civil servants will have suffered a 20% cut in their incomes by next year because of frozen wages and increased pension contributions since the coalition came to power.

Picket lines will be mounted outside government offices, museums and galleries, courts and other buildings as more than 200,000 PCS members join the strike.

A series of national and local walkouts have been held over the past few years as part of the long-running dispute, which remains deadlocked.

The stoppage follows a four-hour strike by health workers on Monday, including midwives taking action for the first time in their history.

The PCS said a report by the New Economics Foundation showing that the poorest 10% of Britons have seen a “staggering” 15% decline in their incomes over the past year, had revealed the real effect of pay cuts.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These figures prove what people in low paid households already know, that the real cost of living is soaring while wages are being cut year after year.

“Our action this week demands an end to these cuts that are slashing the public servants’ living standards at the same time as millionaires are handed tax cuts and tens of billions of pounds is stolen from our public finances every year through tax evasion.”

Mr Serwotka said the industrial action this week, followed by a national demonstration organised by the TUC on Saturday under the slogan Britain Needs A Pay Rise, shows that the issue of low pay “will not go away”.

He added: “It is completely unacceptable that people’s pay has fallen since the coalition came to power in 2010. That is why this battle is so significant.

“We believe the strike will be well supported because of the dreadful pay situation and the appalling treatment of civil service workers, with offices being closed, jobs lost, the threat of privatisation and clamping down on sick pay.”

Tens of thousands of civil service jobs have been cuts over the past few years, while pay has been frozen or rises kept below inflation.

Mr Serwotka said that despite the seriousness of the industrial dispute, no meetings had been held with government ministers over the past year.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: ” “The irresponsible leadership of the PCS union has a weak and outdated mandate for today’s strikes. They didn’t even manage to persuade a fifth of their members to back action.

“Worse still, their ballot was conducted 18 months ago. It cannot be right for the union leadership to threaten to disrupt the lives of hardworking people when the overwhelming majority of dedicated public servants did not support these strikes.

“As part of our long-term economic plan, this Government is taking tough decisions to address the budget deficit we inherited after the 2010 general election. One was to introduce pay restraint in the public sector, while protecting the lowest paid. Pay restraint protects public sector jobs, supports high-quality public services and helps keep the UK’s finances back on track.”

Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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