PCS in rash of strikes

Submitted by AWL on 14 August, 2019 - 7:40 Author: John Moloney, PCS Assistant General Secretary (in a personal capacity)
BEIS strike

Our members working as cleaners and catering staff at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are continuing an all-out, indefinite strike to win living wages.

Other outsourced workers at BEIS, including security guards and mailroom staff, have also struck, and they are discussing escalating the dispute by joining the indefinite strike.

Cleaners at HMRC offices in Bootle and Liverpool are also striking for living wages, and are striking from 11-13 August.

On 13 August, workers from BEIS visited Liverpool for a joint rally. Outsourced workers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have also been striking. We′re looking to spread these disputes.

Directly-employed civil service staff are also fighting a number of local disputes. IT workers at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will strike for four weeks from 22 August. They′re fighting the imposition of worse terms and conditions.

Universal Credit Service Centre workers in a number of locations are fighting for increased staffing levels; workers in Stockport voted 91.9% voted in favour of strikes, with 95% in favour of action short of strikes, on a 71% turnout.

Unfortunately UC workers in Walsall and Wolverhampton, who′d struck previously, fell slightly short of the required thresholds in a re-ballot imposed on them by the restrictive anti-strike laws. As I write, we′re expecting the return of a ballot of job centre workers in Balham, in south London, who are fighting to protect jobs.

I stood for AGS on a platform that the union should empower groups of workers who want to take action, and facilitate them in taking that action, rather than putting obstacles in their way, and I believe we′re beginning to deliver that.

We′re paying strike pay to our outsourced worker members to ensure they′re able to take sustained action and aren′t starved back to work.

We′re also discussing what PCS can do to support the 20 September climate strike. We have communicated with branches to encourage activity on the day, even if it′s something relative minimal like joining a local demo.

Some branches are planning their own activity. Branches are also being encouraged to write to the employer asking them to support workers in walking out, as some local government union branches have done.

We are also seeking to arm local negotiators with demands for “greening” the workplace.

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