270,000 Civil Servants Out

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OVER a quarter of a million civil servants will walk out at the start of a 48-hour national strike today against the government’s decision to unilaterally slash their redundancy payments.

There have already been mass redundancies in the civil service, but more cuts are planned.

Around 270,000 members of the PCS trade union will take part in the 48-hour action, including civil servants at Job Centres, tax offices, the coastguard, courts and the Border Agency.

Even driving test examiners are involved.

This follows a 63.4 per cent vote in favour of strike action and an 81.4 per cent vote for an overtime ban.

They are angry at the decision of the Cabinet Office to make unilateral changes to the civil service compensation scheme, which will ‘rob’ them of up to a third of their entitlements, which could mean some losing tens of thousands of pounds if made redundant.

The government is looking to save £500 million through the changes, based on the number of jobs it has axed over the last three years.

‘With all the main political parties planning deep spending cuts, the union fears that the cuts to the scheme will lead to tens of thousands of job losses on the cheap,’ said a PCS statement.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: ‘We have suggested ways in which the government can make these savings whilst protecting the rights of existing members, yet it seems intent on penalising the people who keep this country running.

‘The government needs to recognise the depth of anger which has been demonstrated by this ballot result.’

A union ‘battle bus’ will tour London tomorrow, visiting PCS picket lines before a march and rally.

Among the picket lines it plans to visit will be pickets at the Royal Courts of Justice, the Houses of Parliament, New Scotland Yard, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library, as well as government departments across Whitehall.

In Wales, a big picket is expected at the National Assembly and Companies House in Cardiff and in Scotland determined picket lines are expected outside the DWP, the Ministry of Defence offices and the Scottish Court Service in Glasgow, where a rally is also planned.

There are a total of 21 regional marches and rallies planned, including ones in Peterborough, Norwich, Luton, Brighton, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Preston, Manchester, Bristol, Plymouth, Dundee, Leeds, Sheffield and Belfast.

• A march and rally takes place in London tomorrow, assembling from 11.30am in Waterloo at Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, St George’s Road, SE1 (alongside the Imperial War Museum).

The march will finish with a lunchtime rally at Westminster Cathedral Hall at 1.00pm and speakers will include PCS leader Mark Serwotka, Bob Crow of the RMT and NUT deputy-leader Kevin Courtney.