Ipswich: Third civil servants’ strike over pay this year

Strike at Haven House by members of the PCS, Ipswich

Strike at Haven House by members of the PCS, Ipswich - Credit: Lucy taylor

Civil servants have gone on strike across Ipswich on Wednesday in a dispute over pay.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) organised industrial action for members urging the government for a pay rise in civil servant jobs across the country, with walkouts happening across Ipswich as part of the national campaign.

Since 2010, the government has imposed a two year pay freeze, and capped pay for public sector workers at one per cent, despite prices of goods rising by up to 16 per cent since then.

Strikes took place at HMRC Revenue and Customs office on Lower Brook Street, and at the Job Centre Plus on Silent Street, Ipswich.

Harvey Crane, the PCS branch secretary and employee at HMRC Revenue and Customs who was on strike, said: “We have had a pay freeze for a number of years and people are really struggling. In my job, I am taking the same pay that I took home seven years ago.

“Our pension age has gone from 60 to 67, so in real terms we are losing out,” he added.

The pickets are part of a national one day strike in the civil service and related areas, following on from the NHS walkouts at Ipswich and West Suffolk Hospital on Monday, and is the third walk out over pay this year.

Dominic McFadden, a member of the PCS national executive committee, who was also at the Lower Brook Street strike, said: “It’s a long running dispute because we haven’t had a pay rise. People are living on credit and if we can give people a pay rise they will spend it.”

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PCS has submitted a national pay claim asking for five per cent, or £1,200 for all civil service and related staff.

A national demonstration is taking place on Saturday in London, starting at Victoria Embankment through to Victoria Park, with a coach of Ipswich PCS members leaving Saturday morning to attend the rally.

Clare Cotterill, a customer service officer at Ipswich Job Centre Plus and union learning rep with PCS was on strike and said: “It’s a national thing that has been going on for a number of years, but the talks never seem to get too far.

“It’s one of those situations that we just cannot ignore. If everybody in the country took a day off we would see something happening, and if it happened nationally we would sort it.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said, “I am disappointed that this strike took place. Not only did it not have the support of the majority of union members but because of the inconvenience caused to the public. Times have been very tough for everyone – including for many people in the private sector who have seen their wages cut, let alone frozen.

“Most people understand that we need a strong economy if we are to afford the public services we all want and need, and that strong economy will only come if we control public spending.”

An official statement from the Department of Work and Pensions said: “The DWP is prepared for any strike action. We have successfully managed several recent periods of industrial action with minimal disruption. All Job Centres are open today and we expect all claimants to receive their benefits as normal.”