Workers at Peterborough Passport Office were among civil servants beginning a five-week strike today.
They remain angered by the Government over their refusal to negotiate terms for a new deal but are also increasingly bitter over pension and employment rights.
Robert Barron, regional secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) was in Peterborough today to support his members.
He said the union was asking for a 10 per cent pay rise, the return of a 2pc contribution “without impact on pensions”.
Mr Barron said his union – which he says is receiving growing support – also wants the Government to “withdraw attempts to cut redundancy terms by a third”.
He said the only concession so far had been the withdrawal by the Government of the intent of former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg to “get rid of 120,000 civil servants”.
Mr Barron described morale on the picket lines as “very good – you have to remember the motivation of our union taking this action. We have 40,000 members across the country having to use food banks every week because they are not paid enough.
“We have 47,000 having to claim benefits from the DWP who administer the payments.
“And we have 40,000 members going to get a pay rise but only because the minimum wage is going up”.
Mr Barron said: “ There are some who think all civil servants are bowler hat Sir Humphrey types – well they’re not. Most of these are hardworking ordinary people.”
His members, he said, worked in many Government departments and people could expect to see some disruption of services.
Mr Barron said his union members carried out a wide variety of roles, ranging from art gallery assistants to IT people in ministerial offices.
Potential effects of the strike, he said, could impact not only the Passport Office where he was today but areas of life such a driving examiners, and border force civil servants at airports and ports.
He felt the public were fully aware of the PCS issues.
“I have to say this is the most well publicly supported set of strikes I have known in 20 years,” he said. “And the basic morale of members raised by toots on horns driving by and those queuing up for passports telling our members ‘good on you, well done”
Locally, he added, offices such as that of DEFRA in Cambridge could be affected and may impact the rural payments agency, all going to be out and this could have knock on effect for farmers.
The union was re balloting 140 areas across the country where members had agreed to come out and “we are expecting a high turnout and if necessary will continue this action for another six months”.
April 28 will see a national strike of all government departments, he added.
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