Union staff walk out at courts, job centres and tax offices around the district (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Union staff walk out at courts, job centres and tax offices around the district
6:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
Public sector workers walked out of job centres, courts and tax offices around the district yesterday in a row over pay and pensions.
The Public and Commercial Services Union took action after 84 per cent of members voted for a strike, with a 61 per cent turnout.
The strike was branded “futile, counterproductive and irresponsible” by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.
Staff at Shipley Jobcentre, who mounted the first picket line outside the building. About two-thirds of the 31 staff are PCSU members, but only two were outside.
Two staff at the nearby HMRC accounts office joined them in a show of support and were on the street yesterday from 7.30am for two hours.
PCSU member Rob Thornton, vice-chairman of the DWP young members advisory committee, said: “What we’ve asked for is either a pay rise of five per cent or £1,200, whichever’s the highest. We’ve seen a reduction in our pay over the last five years due to inflation of about 20 per cent.
“The pay rises we’ve had have always been below inflation and even before the recession began we’d not had a reasonable pay increase.
“Over the past two years our pay rises have been capped at one per cent; that’s for everyone who’s earning less than £21,000; anyone earning more than that wouldn’t get a pay rise.
“That’s one of the reasons people have told us that they’ve had to cross the picket line today; because they haven’t had any pay rises, they don’t actually have enough money to be able to afford to take one day off unpaid.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said it expected everyone entitled to their pension or benefit payments would still receive them yesterday.
A public rally was also held in Bradford city centre yesterday against “the squeeze” on the wages of low paid workers and benefits and in support of the striking civil servants.
Bradford Trades Council and The Bradford People’s Coalition staged the demonstration in Memorial Gardens at noon to encourage people to fight Government cuts cuts to benefits.
Around 35 people, including striking PCSU members, gathered for the demonstration.
DWP Bradford branch secretary Rob Williams said that whatever the turnout, the rally would be “enthusiastic” and that the walkout had been well supported in Bradford.
PCS national executive committee member Andy Reid addressed the rally.
The rally marked the start of three months of industrial action.
Secretary of the Bradford People’s Coalition Keith Nathan said cuts threatening the most vulnerable were unnecessary.