Just got back from a very wet and windy picket line in Bangor, at the DWP call centre on parc menai. the strike there wasn't quite as solid there as elsewhere around the country (the other jobs are really crap here) but there was still a large number of people not going in. Below i've posted some stuff from the pcs website as background to the strike, and a press release of the days action so far. I'll try and do a follow-up post over the next week or so too, btu I sold one paper and gave out quite a few leaflets too despite th driving rain. (plus hopefully they'll be advertising our next public meeting too.)
PCS today announced a two day strike by members working for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Jobcentres, the Pension service and Child Support Agency (CSA) as the department walked away from last minute talks in a dispute over the threatened imposition of a below inflation pay offer.
The two day strike to be followed by an overtime ban will be held next week on Thursday 6 December and Friday 7 December and adds to the pressure on the government following rows over party funding and the loss of child benefit data. The two day strike comes as the DWP seek to impose a pay offer which would see approximately 40% of staff receive 0% pay increase next year.
Members are angry over the three year pay offer, which sees cost of living increases for longer serving staff members of 2% this year, 0% next year and 1% in the final year. The pay offer averages just 1% a year over the three years and sees the lowest paid receiving increases which take their wage to only 24 pence above the minimum wage.
The news comes as it emerged that the DWP would be closing three pension centres located in Birmingham, Blackpool and Dearne Valley at the cost of 650 jobs. The union warned that the closures would further damage the pension service which has been hit by delays and backlogs.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "The department has provoked conflict and the inevitable disruption that strike action brings by walking away from last minute talks. This insulting pay offer that will see low paid staff receive a pay cut in real terms has provoked anger amongst people who have borne the brunt of job cuts. Imposing a pay offer that averages out at 1% a year will do little for the morale of staff who have seen job cuts and services suffer.
"The government have got to start realising that its policies of cuts and driving down pay are not only damaging staff morale and services, but creating the conditions for systemic failure across the civil service. If the government and the department want to avoid damaging industrial action, then they need to re-start talks quickly on a fair pay deal for staff."
Fantastic Support for first strike day
6 Dec 2007
An estimated 70,000 PCS members supported the first day of the 2 day strike over the imposed below inflation pay offer.
Many reps reported better turn out than the excellent national action in May.
Hundreds of text messages have been received from reps on picket lines reporting solid support, good news coverage and high spirits.
Offices across the country were either closed or offering a very limited service with only a handful of senior managers covering the phones and turning claimants away.
The message to senior DWP management is clear. PCS members will not tolerate the imposition of an insulting, below inflation offer.
Turnout out tomorrow is expected to be even higher with more members on strike than any previous strike.