Thursday, 25 March 2010

PCS strikers take message to Miliband country

David Miliband's constituency of South Shields is just down the road from me. We've targeted him for protests locally on a couple of occasions. We had a very lively protest at the time of the invasion of Gaza, when the Foreign Secretary had a Labour Party dinner in his constituency. Then there was the anti-war protest last October, when Peter Mandelson was in town to deliver the, ahem, David Miliband Annual Lecture.

I couldn't get to yesterday's PCS strike support rally in South Shields, but Mark Tyers has reported for Counterfire:

PCS members in the North East converged on Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s office in South Shields to hand in a petition, before breaking off into smaller groups to leaflet every household in the sea-side town.

The messages on these leaflets read “We are not to blame “Darling”- protect public services”. Alan Price, an employee of the Land Registry, told me at the South Shields rally: “we’ve got to try every avenue available to get the message across to the general public, many of whom sadly seem to have a jaundiced view about civil servants”.

The cuts to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme will result in civil servants losing tens of thousands of pounds in the event of them being laid off work. Many PCS members, such as Julie Young, see it as the government preparing for post-election “job-cuts-on-the-cheap”.

PCS statistics show that civil servants do not get an easy ride, with almost a fifth earning less than £15,000 per year and over half earning less that the UK average of £23,000 per year.

PCS knows its members are not alone in facing cuts caused by the recession. Many of its members see their strike, the BA strike, and the overwhelming votes for strike action made my British Gas employess and railway maintenance-and-signal-operators as part of a much broader fight to protect workers rights in Britain. As Alan Ingram, chair of Gateshead and South Tyneside PCS observed, “we are fighting for different issues, but together we are all trying to fight for the working man and woman’s rights”.

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