As a passport office union join a public sector strike, criticism from Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg emerges, as he states the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) strike is nothing more than hypocrisy. PCS’s members include civil servants who work at job centres, tax offices, courts and the Passport Office.
He claimed they themselves were guilty of pay caps (1 percent cap on worker’s wages from mid-2013), doubled pension contributions, and job losses over recent years, with more than 17 percent of their workforce slashed during public strikes over job loss. He therefore described it as “laughable” that they were protesting against the Government for actions they were no stranger to. He also said that unlike the Government, their actions will cause massive disruption to the public, as the strike is designed to disrupt people’s summer holidays to gain attention.
Rees-Mogg described the move as “pot and kettle”, questioning who will stand up for the downtrodden workers at the PCS. Later this week, PCS members at HMRC are also rumoured to be set to walk out, on the day tax credit customers across the country will attempt to renew before the deadline.
A PCS Spokesperson disregarded these claims, stating: “Our pay and pension arrangements were not imposed on staff but properly negotiated with our staff union, the GMB, and the terms agreed by staff in a union membership ballot… Our staff numbers have reduced as many of our members have lost their jobs as a consequence of government cuts that are undermining the delivery of quality public services… All PCS staff departures were voluntary and we provide staff with security of employment by having a ‘no compulsory redundancy’ commitment in place.”
However, the strike itself, regardless of it’s members, is said to be an attempt to reduce poverty. Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer for local government and part of the movement, stated: “Poverty pay is widespread across local councils – household bills continue to soar … members are choosing between heating and eating … Unite is seeking a £1-an-hour increase in pay for the local council workforce which has 400,000 employees earning below £15,000 a year and a million earning less than £21,000.”
In response, the Government argued that “pay restraint protects public sector jobs, supports high-quality public services and helps put the UK’s finances back on track.” He also said that the strike lacks authority because the PCS was relying on a mandate for action that is more than a year old, and the results of a ballot supported by less than a fifth of their members.
If you believe you have been unfairly treated at work, strikes are an option, however you can also contact Michael Lewin Solicitors to help you understand your rights and aid you in a claim.