On Thursday 18 October, HMRC staff in Coventry took part in a 15 minute walkout to protest the arrival of cabinet minister Francis Maude. Trade union activists are now calling on civil servants across the country to follow their example, with a day of action on 14 November against plans to roll back terms and conditions.
The government has announced plans to undermine the working conditions of civil servants, already facing a pay freeze and pension cuts. The plans include increased working hours, reduced leave, reduced sick pay and the prospect of forced moves anywhere in the UK. The PCS union has condemned the plans, whilst rank-and-file members and workers are livid and demanding action.
A member who took part in the Coventry walkout said:
Today marks the beginning of the fight against vicious attacks on us all as ordinary hard working people.
To members and activists everywhere: don’t wait any longer, call your 15 minute meetings and one by one start walking out all over the country, drive this Government to the negotiating table on our terms. We can’t always wait for the ballots and the leaflets and politics at the top of the union.
To the union leaders: take up this fight with no compromises and repay the bravery shown by ordinary members who have taken a risk today on behalf of all of us.
Government departments are due to present their proposals for changes to terms and conditions on 16 November. Two days before, at least four European countries will be taking part in coordinated general strike action. We call on civil servants to join them, and make this day a landmark in our own fight against these vicious attacks.
We urge workers in all government offices, through mass meetings, rank-and-file workplace committees or union branch committees, to support the following action on Wednesday 14 November:
- 15 minute lightning walkouts
- Protest rallies outside your workplace
- A communications blockade* of the office of Francis Maude
We further call on all fellow trades unionists, trades councils and individuals or organisations opposed to austerity to join us in these actions and show the workers your solidarity.
If we do not beat these attacks, it will embolden employers to drive down the working conditions of all workers. The time to stand our ground and fight is now. Join us.
*A communications blockade entails mass phone calls, emails and faxes with the aim of jamming up communications.