On Wednesday, 15 October PCS members in the civil service and related areas are striking for fair pay.
Other public sector unions, working in the health service, are striking on Monday (13 October) followed by 4 days of action short of a strike, from Tuesday, 14 October to Friday, 17 October. This action will focus on making sure members take their correct breaks.
Also next week, on Saturday (18 October) there will be major union demonstrations in London and Glasgow called by the TUC and STUC.
The government imposed a 2-year pay freeze in 2010 and in recent years has capped pay for all public sector workers at 1%. Since 2010 prices have risen by 16%.
We have submitted a national pay claim asking for 5% or £1,200 for all civil service and related staff. We are demanding a fair settlement.
Why we’re taking action
Fighting the cuts, campaigning for fair pay and halting the decline in our living standards are among the reasons why members are striking on 15 October.
Kelly, from DWP Wirral said she’s taking action to oppose austerity measures which are “affecting the poor and disabled, people’s pensions and our future generation. We have to stand together as individualism does not change policy.”
Lorna explained the impact of the pay freeze/cut on her: “I’m striking because after 8 years being on the bottom of the pay scale and another 1% rise which is actually a pay cut, it’s not good enough.”
For Angela from DWP Wirral it’s vital to strike to send a message to the government “we will not pay for their mistakes”. She said: “Striking is a last resort for any public servant but the five-year pay cap has left people starving, unable to pay the rent. We need to send a clear and immediate message to this, and any successive government, that we will not pay for their mistakes, we are the backbone of this country, without us it comes to a standstill.”
Not all in it together
Many PCS members are suffering as a result of real-terms pay cuts.
David, a HMRC Liverpool branch member, said: “I am sick and tired of hearing that we are all in it together. My household bills are increasing year on year but I look around and see large bonuses given out on top of large wages.
“Explain to me why I should not go on strike. Explain to me why the lowest paid in our country are feeling the majority of austerity pain. Explain to me why I am struggling, why I am worried and why during these austerity measures we are not shown the respect we deserve.
“When we ask to talk, your (the government’s) doors are closed and when we have to use strike action as a last resort we are then criticised. The reason I am striking is to help bang on those closed doors.”
Mike, from EHRC Manchester, said: “I’ll be on strike because as a public sector worker, my pay in real terms has been reduced by over 20%, which is having a huge impact on my family. I am sick and tired of working people paying for a deficit which was not caused by us.”
Steve from Lancashire said: “The media always blame the unions for strikes. It’s about time they realised that as members we don’t want to strike, cause disruption and hardship to others we serve. If the government, my boss, had not given me consecutive pay cuts I wouldn’t be on the picket line. I beg the government to listen to its workers and get back to the negotiating table.”