- Strikes Hit Civil Service Where It Hurts
Report by Chris Amery and photographs by Patrick Trollope.
DESPITE freezing temperatures, members of the Public and Commercial Services Union protested throughout the UK on 29 and 30 January following a series of below inflation and expectation of pay offers.
In Liverpool, the picketing battle lines were drawn from as early as 6am outside the Crown Court. The protest was reportedly good natured and well supported by barristers and the members of the public alike. Southport saw similar scenes outside the Magistrates Court.
One of the union representatives was quoted as saying:- "We are the only service to be treated this way. It is a shame that we have to go on strike, but we have to make our point. We are not impeding any major cases or lobbying any jury members we are just acting responsibly to draw attention to the way we have been treated by this administration."
The PCS union represents civil and public servants in Central Government. It has 290,000 members in 173 departments and is subsequently the UK's sixth largest union. The two day strikes reportedly involved nearly 20,000 people who work in courts, prisons, the Home Office and the Treasury Solicitors Office.
The two day strike action follows the imposition of a 2.8% cost of living increase in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the imposition of a 1.3% cost of living increase in the Home Office, the imposition of 0.5% in the Treasury Solicitors Office after pay progression and the rejection of a 1% pay offer after pay progression in the Prison Service.
On January 29, Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary said:-
"This is not something our members have entering into lightly. Members up and down the country are braving the cold on picket lines, it shouldn't have to come this and we remain ready to come to a negotiated settlement."
The PCS reported that Crown and County courts were disrupted as they operated on a skeleton staff and managers were bussed in to keep them open. In the Home Office some immigration centres were completely closed whilst others operated on a reduced service. The Prison Service saw widespread disruption to the transfer and processing of prisoners as support staff stopped work and the work of the Government's own lawyers the Treasury Solicitors was severely hindered.
13 YEARS FOR NORTH WEST COCAINE PAIR
THE BG SPIRIT team for the Global Challenge 2004/2005 has been finalised, with the announcement of the skipper and crew members at the Schroders London International Boat Show.
Andy Forbes, from Australia, will lead the team that comprises fifteen core crew volunteers and the strong BG Legger Squad following the selection by Sir Chay Blyth, founder and chairman of Challenge Business.
Andy Forbes has nine months to build the crew into a team capable of taking on 'the world's toughest yacht race'. This process will involve some gruelling training programmes, supplemented by a series of team building initiatives ahead of the race start from Portsmouth in October.
Delighted with the composition of the BG SPIRIT crew, Forbes commented:-
"After meeting the crew, I'm confident that we have a team that will work well together. I'm looking forward to the first on the water training sessions and preparing for our 33,000 mile race."
The BG Legger Squad, which will provide two crew members for each of the seven legs, was chosen from BG geographic regions around the world following a three day qualifying sail and an intensive Challenge Business assessment.