Picket lines were solid across Leeds as PCS members took strike action on budget day against the numerous attacks the Con-Dems are making on the civil service, from pay freezes, to attacks on terms and conditions, office closures and even the unions ability to organise itself.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
At sites across the city we were told that very few people had gone in and picket line numbers seemed higher than we have seen previously during strike action. The mood on the picket lines determined, but optimistic that PCS’s current strategy will help bridge the gap between the action PCS needs to take to defend its members now and the co-ordinated action that will be necessary to defeat the governments austerity agenda. On seeing our leaflet advertising the National Shop Steward Network’s demand for the TUC to ‘name the day’ commented ‘That’s exactly what we need’.
At the lunch time strike rally organised by Leeds TUC, PCS official Stella Dennis gave a summary of the strikes events including several accounts of new members signing up and encouraged trade unionists to support PCS members again when they walk out on April 5th. Dave Williams, West Yorkshire FBU brigade secretary summarised the attacks on the fire service and announced they were poised to take strike action over pensions, whilst Liz Kitching from Hands off our Homes outlined the devastation that the governments bedroom tax will cause on some of the poorest and the mass campaign in Leeds which is developing to fight it.
Terry Cunliffe, explained how Unite is being de-recognised in West Yorkshire Ambulence service for standing up to attempts to deskill the service by introducing emergency care assistants who will only receive six weeks training compared to the two years usually received by paramedics. Unite members have now voted to take strike action on April 2nd and Terry urged all there to support the action. Joel Heyes, Leeds TUC secretary and striking PCS rep, concluded the rally, thanking all for attending and other unions for their support.