Staff in the Equality and Human Rights Commission are on strike today for a third day. An organisation charged with supporting the rights of the oppressed and discriminated against has decided to make 24 redundancies – of whom 11 are disabled, 9 are BME staff and 9 are trade union reps. See here for more details from the PCS website. In Glasgow, National Vice President John McInally, leading member of PCS Left Unity, turned out with other LU activists, DWP reps and staff from groups like Citizens Advice to support the picket. The strike was absolutely solid, with ten staff outside picketing.
In London, the EHRC will be hosting a “Human Rights Day Reception” at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace; a PCS picket will be in place from 5pm and all members are encouraged to attend and show solidarity. Strike action has already had results; the compulsory redundancies have been delayed – pushed back until the end of January. EHRC continues to have vacancies in the organisation, with some staff already having left on voluntary exit schemes, so staff are absolutely determined that there should be no further redundancies.
Today’s strike in Glasgow is happening on the same day as a strike by ICT workers at Glasgow city council – who face the privatisation of their jobs. Council budgets in Scotland have suffered cuts of more than £1bn since 2010 and face the prospect of another £700 million lost by 2020. Across the public sector in the UK, more than a million jobs have been lost. The recent announcement of 8 Jobcentre closures in Glasgow – soon to be followed in other areas – has shone a spotlight on the extent to which the government is cutting back public services, and raised questions over what the other parties are prepared to do to stop it.
Linking all of these disputes is of critical importance. PCS delegates to TUC conference, including members of the Democracy Alliance-led National Executive Committee of PCS, make this arguments every year. The same arguments are put forward at the Trade Union Coordinating Group, which links up unions that have a desire to fight back against austerity. At every forum available to PCS reps, the demand for a coordinated, national campaign against austerity is put forward. PCS Left Unity will continue to make the arguments for a fighting response to all cuts.