Fantastic show of strength & Solidarity in Cardiff on Budget Day

Left Unity members in HMRC Wales branch worked incredibly hard in the run up to the 15th March strike, leafletting, talking to members one on one, contacting all members via their personal email. 

In the weeks before the day we contacted other employer groups within the Cardiff Hub and held several strike organising meetings. Two days before the strike we held an all members meeting via zoom which was really well attended. 

All that hard work really paid off on the day itself. 

By 7am we already had a strong vibrant picket line of around 10 pickets which just kept growing. Faces old and new, reps, advocates and ordinary members arrived throughout the morning. We were joined by PCS reps from the Valuation Office and Prospect reps from HSE, by 8.30 the picket itself was 40 strong. And more people kept coming! 

For many of those present it was their first experience of industrial action, but any trepidation anyone had quickly disappeared as the mood was one of solidarity despite the cold with many  members of the public stopping to express their support. 

From 11.30 trade unionists from across Cardiff began to arrive for the rally that took place outside the Cardiff Government Hub. The sight of PCS members with flags, hats and banners from Welsh Government, DWP, Home Office and National Museum of Wales (among others) pouring into the square was magnificent and followed by striking UCU members who marched across the city behind their banner to join us for speeches and chanting. 

All in all a fantastic day, the mood was one of determination and anger at the Tories over pay and the cost of living but also anger at the way that this government is attacking refugees and trying to use their racist rhetoric to divide us. When our movement works together we are strong and that was very evident on the streets of Cardiff on Budget Day. 

Marianne Owens

Marianne is standing for re-election to the NEC as part of the Democracy Alliance. Click here to see the Democracy Alliance slate

Birmingham Strike Rally

PCS strikers from around Birmingham gathered after our pickets for a march and strike rally on Wednesday.

Birmingham Town Committee had met the previous week to consider what we should do after the pickets were over for the day. We were in contact with the Trades Council and UCU activists and agreed to call a strike rally beside the Birmingham City University campus.

Most of the civil service offices in the city centre are nearer to the 3AC hub building, so we decided to call on strikers to gather in Centenary Square and then march to the strike rally. I was nervous as the assembly time loomed as we didn’t know how many members would attend.

At 11am close to 100 striking members had assembled, clad in hi-vis, PCS beanies and flags. With the megaphone booming we marched through the shopping streets to the strike rally. I spoke about the reality of low pay in the civil service, the fact that the prime minister has a private swimming pool with a heating cost of over £14,000 per year, the equivalent of half my pay, and the need to take the fight to the Tories. Claudine, another PCS member, spoke about the first day of strike action in the HMRC. The rally was also addressed by UCU strikers, a striking teacher and students.

One thing we learnt from the 1st February strike rally was that members would turn up who we didn’t know. So this time we were better prepared and now have a far better network of activists to work with when the next all member strike is called.

Pete Jackson

Pete Jackson is standing for election to the NEC as part of the Democracy Alliance. Click here to see the full candidate list.

Over 60 pickets at Unity Square, Nottingham

NEC members, Ian Lawther and Paul Williams were among the first to arrive for the picket line at Unity Square, Nottingham, closely followed by Reps and members from HMRC, the DVSA, DfT, DfE, Legal Aid Agency (LAA), and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)

The picket was staged from 06:30 until 10:30 when several pickets left to join the NUJ picket at the BBC, in solidarity with journalists taking strike action from 11:00 today.

At it’s peak, there were over 60 PCS pickets and supporters on the line at Unity Square, where we were joined by two Reps from the Prospect union in the VOA. Hot sausage and bacon cobs were cooked on  site to keep the pickets happy and fed and appropriate music was played throughout.

The picket was visited by a local journalist from the West Bridgford Wire. Their article can be found here:

From 12:00 noon, until late, a Picket and supporters social at the Canalhouse public house in Nottingham, with food, quizzes and a raffle. Over £200 was raised from the raffle which will be paid into the PCS hardship fund.

Ian Lawther and Paul Williams are standing for re-election to the NEC as part of the Democracy Alliance. Click here for to see the Democracy Alliance slate

Fantastic ballot result in HMRC

Members in HMRC group have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. With a turnout of just over 58% and over 80% voting to strike, this is a tremendous ballot result and sends a strong message to the Government that members are angry and that enough is enough.

All reps, members and activists should be proud of the effort that they have put into winning the ballot. It is clear that thousands are up for joining the budget day strike on 15th March as well as future action.

Membership in the group has seen a significant increase during the ballot and even on the afternoon of the result being announced we have seen a flurry of new joiners wanting to get stuck in.

None of this would have been possible without the clear strategy to win that has been set out and implemented by the current Left Unity led GEC.

While our opponents have engaged in naysaying and miserablism from the sidelines, shouting that we will never get over the Tory anti-union ballot threshold and saying that members would leave the union in their hundreds if not thousands in protest at the strike levy, Left Unity members have held firm and got on with engaging thousands of our members and carrying out a strategy to win.

We as Left Unity members in HMRC stand on our long record of achieving the best we can for members, not just talking a good fight, but actually fighting.

We ask all members and branches in HMRC to now get behind the campaign but also to ensure we can continue to win for our members.

Please support Left Unity candidates in the upcoming Group elections and back a strategy that can win!!

Click on the image below to download the interactive flyer.

Defend Refugees

200 anti-racists gathered outside a hotel in Nottingham today where refugees are housed. We gathered in response to a threat from racist groups to protest against the refugees.

Anti racist campaigners were horrified at the targeting of people who have often fled war and managed to reach Britain despite the Tory government’s racist refusal to provide a safe route into the country.

The involvement of the PCS in stopping the government’s attempt to turn refugees back in the channel was welcomed, as was our work in opposing the Rwanda policy.

PCS members should be proud of our role in the anti racist movement and continue to mobilise for anti racist protests including the TUC / Stand Up To Racism national demonstrations on March 18th.

Pete Jackson, Midlands PCS regional chair