Civil servants walk out in strike against cuts

PCS members staged a strike in protest at UK government cuts yesterday. Picture: PA
PCS members staged a strike in protest at UK government cuts yesterday. Picture: PA
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THOUSANDS of civil servants walked out of visitor attractions, courts and government offices as a summer of discontent got under way.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union yesterday took part in a half-day strike against the UK Government’s cuts.

The PCS represents around 30,000 public and civil servants in Scotland who fear for their pay, pensions and working conditions.

Among the venues forced to close early was the National Museum of Scotland, in Chambers Street, which was recently named the UK’s top free attraction outside London.

Staff at sheriff courts, driving test centres and the Scottish Parliament were also involved in the walkout – the first step in a planned three-month campaign to fight cuts which is set to continue over the weekend.

A spokesman for the National Museum did, however, say that the attraction would be open as normal today.

The union’s campaign began on March 20, the day Chancellor George Osborne announced the Budget.

Joy Dunne, from the union, said she believed that between 80 and 90 per cent of its 6000 members joined in the strike action.

She said: “It has been absolutely brilliant, beyond our expectations to a certain extent. March 20 was a full day of action and to be able to sustain that to April 5 is fantastic.

“The National Museum is shut again, there have been walkouts in the Scottish Government – it has been amazing. The strike will continue over the weekend and into Monday when HM Revenue and Customs members will be striking.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said about 634 of its employees went on strike, equivalent to nine per cent of core and main agency staff.

“Main Scottish Government and agency buildings have remained open and essential business is 
continuing,” she said.

Independent Lothian MSP Margo MacDonald yesterday told the News that she understood union members’ “utter frustration”, and added: “Very little has been offered to them by way of mediation to try and find an answer to these disputes.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Current estimates suggest around 15 per cent of parliament staff are absent today as a result of industrial action.

“Normal recess service is being provided across all areas of the parliament with the exception of the mail service where there is some reduction in the number of 
collections and deliveries.”

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com