Wednesday, 5 November 2008

PCS Strike- Oxford

Civil Servants to strike over pay- Press Release

PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) members are set to stage a Civil Service wide strike on the 10th November over the Government's 2% public sector pay cap.

The union has urged the government to come to the negotiating table to avoid the action and review it's pay cap, which is resulting in pay cuts and pay freezes for some of the lowest paid in the public sector. If there is no movement from the government then industrial action will begin with a one day UK wide strike on 10th November, hitting passports, Jobcentresm, Tax Credits, immigration and customs, as well as driving licenses, coastguards, driving tests and museums.

The one day strike will be followed by an overtime ban and further targeted industrial action that would stretch into the new year in the different sectors of the civil service.

With one in five in the civil service earning less than £15,000 abd thousands earning just above the minimum wage, the government's policy of capping public sector pay has hit some of the lowest paid in the public sector the hardest.

Commenting, Mark serwotka, PCS general secretary, said "The everyday things we take for granted from passports and getting back into work, through to tax credits, coastguards and securing our borders are delivered by hardworking civil and public servants. Giving these people pay rises that take their wages to just 13 or 25 pence above the national minimum wage is unsustainable when you face double digit rises in food, fuel and housing costs."

Kate Douglas, joint branch secretary of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Department of Work and Pensions, said "The government wants us to think there is no money for our pay, but billions can be found to bail out the bankers; pay in the private sector is increasing at 1% higher than the public sector and the most senior civil servants can get as much as £40,000 in bonuses. We are told by the government to tighten our belts when we have nothing left to tighten."

Tina Watts, who works in Oxford Jobcentre, said "The government claims that low paid public sector workers cause inflation. However, no serious economist has suggested that giving us fair wage rises would cause inflation. With food and energy costs rising, far from being the cause of inflation, we are the victims."

Lorna Merry, HMRC Branch Secretary, said 'The pay cap hits civil servants harder than other public sector workers as we're limited to the same % increase but it has to fund pay progression as well as general increases. 2008 rises for workers in the two largest departments show just how unfairly this works in practice. The DWP is using it's remit to fund progression awards this year, so the 40% paid the rate for the job get nothing this year. HMRC have scrapped progression this year to fund an across the board rise for all staff that's half of the rate of inflation, leaving newer recruits stranded on pay that's hundreds of pounds less than longer serving colleagues doing the same job. A key part of our campaign is to seperate pay progression from pay rises so that future pay offers don't result in this sort of unfairness in future.'

There will be picket lines outside most civil service offices, including the jobcentre in Oxford.