Opinion Former Article

PCS: Civil and public servants start national 48 hour strike

Courts, jobcentres, driving tests, tax offices, border controls and passports are amongst some of the services that will be affected today (8 March) as up to 270,000 civil and public servants from across the UK begin a 48 hour stoppage over cuts to redundancy terms.

The strike, called by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), will also see civilian staff working for the Met Police and security staff working in the House of Parliament taking strike action for the first time in over 25 years.

The dispute is over changes to the civil service compensation scheme which will see staff robbed of up to a third of their entitlements and see loyal civil and public servants lose tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job. The union fears that the government wants to make it easier for whoever wins the general election to cut low paid civil and public servants on the cheap.

Over 20 rallies in towns and cities across the UK will be taking place today with picket lines set up today and tomorrow. Tomorrow morning will see a battle bus take to the streets in London, touring picket lines in the Capital including: The Royal Courts of Justice, The Houses of Parliament, The Met Police at New Scotland Yard, The Victoria and Albert Museum, British Library and government departments in Whitehall.

There will also be a march in central London which will finish with a rally in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, SW1P 1QW. The march starts at 11:30am from alongside the Imperial War Museum and is expected to arrive at Westminster Cathedral Hall at 12:45. Speakers at the rally which starts at 1pm include, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, Janice Godrich PCS president (chair), Bob Crow RMT general secretary, Jeremy Dear NUJ general secretary, John McDonnell MP, Kevin Courtney NUT deputy general secretary.

In a separate dispute, around 1,000 PCS members working for Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services will be also striking on 8 and 9 March in a row over pay freezes and job losses. Those taking part in the HP stoppage work mainly on IT contracts for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and General Motors Services. The four HP sites involved are Newcastle, Washington, Preston and the Fylde Coast.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "Loyal civil and public servants won't stand by and allow the government to cut jobs on the cheap. Those on strike today deliver services that touch our everyday lives from the cradle to the grave. Under these imposed changes, they face losing up to a third of their entitlements and tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of their job. The government is tearing up the contracts of low paid civil and public servants whilst it claims it can do nothing about bankers' bonuses because of contractual obligations. The government need to recognise that slashing entitlements and cutting jobs on the cheap will damage public services and reach an agreement that protects existing members' entitlements."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For further information, interviews and comment please contact Alex Flynn PCS national press officer on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216.

PCS, the Public and Commercial Services Union is the union representing civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies. It also represents workers in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich.

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