Passport, Immigration and Criminal Records workers will strike next Thursday 26th July, the eve of London’s Olympic opening ceremony, in a long-running dispute over job cuts, attacks on pay and privatisation.
The hypocrisy of the Government’s scaremongering response that the strike is purely about disrupting the Olympics is breathtaking.
The cost of the Olympics is estimated to top a staggering £24 billion, the kind of figure that would start to address many of the problems faced by those providing and needing our public services, including those Home Office PCS members who will be on strike to defend their jobs and pay.
David Cameron and Boris Johnson do not give a damn about the disruption to the daily lives of Londoners, the vast majority of whom will not have a chance to attend the main events as 70% of tickets have been allocated to health-concious sponsors such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola.
They also omit to mention that along with making it incredibly difficult for Londoners to get to work in the morning during the Olympics, genuine sports-lovers have seen their leisure centre shut in Newham, and local athletes have been barred from using Mile End Stadium which will be handed over to the American squad and their minders for the duration of the games.
The Tories are also less keen to blame their Home Office minister Theresa May, nor will they tear up the numerous lucrative contracts they’ve handed to G4S for their gold-medal performances in making a mess of delivering security guards for the Olympics.
The ConDems have had every chance to resolve this dispute.
Thousands of Home Office jobs have been slashed since 2010 and compulsory redundancies notices have been handed to passport staff in Newport. Private companies are circling and below-inflation pay rises of 1% have been imposed.
Moreover, the strain of trying to provide services together that are at breaking point has led to PCS members voting for strike action.
The chaos in the Home Office, particularly at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was exposed by the National Audit Office when they revealed that 1,000 UKBA workers were laid off in error and and the Agency is now busy hiring workers and increasing overtime to meet demands.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka explained PCS members determination to force the Government’s hand:
“Ministers have known about these issues for a very long time but have chosen not to act.
“We believe they have acted recklessly and irresponsibly in cutting so many jobs and, in the case of UKBA, they have simply tried to paper over the cracks by deploying severely undertrained staff at our borders.
“If these issues are not resolved, they threaten to seriously undermine the Home Office’s ability to provide vital public services, and we cannot sit back and allow that to happen.”
Send messages of support to Home Office PCS members taking strike action to firstname.lastname@example.org