TWO HUNDRED civil servants employed at the International House Tax Office in Ealing Broadway west London went on strike yesterday, determined to defend their jobs and refusing to be transferred to Stratford in east London.
They came streaming out of the office at midday to cheers from a waiting crowd of fellow trade union members outside.
Mark Benjamin, West London PCS Assistant Branch Secretary told News Line: ‘We’re the last remaining office in west London. They want to close us down here and transfer us all to Stratford in east London. We’re striking today and next Tuesday and then for several days in April. There are nearly 200 of us and we won’t accept it.’
Striking PCS member Shashi Sharma said: ‘It would be impossible. I’ve already had to move from Uxbridge, I would never get to Stratford.
Striker Jatinder agreed: ‘It’s not possible. It would mean a two-hour journey to and from work, four hours extra each day. I live in Burnham. I’ve already been transferred to here when the Staines office closed just over a year ago.
‘It’s being done under something called BOF – Building Our Future – under which they are closing 270 tax offices and reducing them to 13 regional centres. It’s catastrophic. It means the destruction of the civil service, losing all the local knowledge, forcing everyone onto digital. The elderly find it very hard.’
At the rally, Lydia Ndoinja, Chair West London PCS, said: ‘Don’t close our office. We’re strong, let’s inspire others with our action. As Rosa Parkes said, you must never be frightened when you are right. We’re not going to travel to Stratford or Croydon. We’re going to defend our jobs here, come what may.’
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘You’ve already been treated disgracefully. Some of you’ve not had just one office closed already but two or three.
‘What you are doing is in the finest tradition of trade unionism. Over 80% of you voted to strike and we will support you, with strike pay, as long as it takes.
‘You deserve the right to work in Ealing and not worry about having to travel ridiculous distances. Now’s the time to say to this government we will not let you destroy our lives.
‘All 125,000 PCS members are now being balloted for action over pay because they want to give us just 1%. If we do across the country what you are doing here we will win and we will defeat this rotten Tory government.’
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