Saturday, 27 January 2007

Oxford civil servants set to strike

Thousands of civil servants working in Oxfordshire will be taking part in a one day strike this Wednesday (31st January) over government plans to axe over 100,000 jobs, which will decimate public services.

The one-day strike, which is the biggest in a generation, has been called by Britain’s largest civil service union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). The strike also comes at a time when civil servants are not only facing losing their jobs but changes to their terms and conditions, sick absence arrangements and the prospect of working longer to receive their pension as the pension age could rise from 60 to 65.

Kate Douglas, Joint Branch Secretary in Department for Work and Pensions explains the reason for the strike:

“The message of our campaign is that the government can’t arbitrarily cut staff without it having a negative impact on local public services such as benefit payment, as well as the local economy. The people the government are seeking to axe aren’t bowler hatted Sir Humphries based in Whitehall or faceless bureaucrats, they provide vital services that touch everybody’s lives from cradle to grave. They work as a team delivering the things we take for granted, such as your driving licence, passport or child benefit. Collecting the taxes to pay for hospitals and schools, stopping drugs from flowing into the country and making sure people get their winter fuel payments doesn’t happen by magic.”

For example due to the job cuts, Crisis Loans, paid to the most vulnerable and desperate, is now a telephone based service. Some people spend days trying to get through and when they do are often cut off due to the overloaded telephone system. Before the cuts we had dedicated staff in local offices who could deal with these claims.

There will be picket lines at all government offices including Brize Norton air base! If you would like to show your support the best picket line to come along to is at the Jobcentre at corner of Worcester St and George St from 7.30 to about 10am.

There will be a rally at Bonn Square, Oxford at 12 noon on 31st January, with Mark Ladbrooke of Oxford Trades Council, and Lorna Merry of HMRC Group Executive Committee.

Please come and show your support.

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