UK civil servants strike over privatization, pay issues

Civil servants and state employees in the UK remained away from their jobs on Wednesday over concerns about wages, job cuts, and privatization of government services. The Public and Commercial Services Union said that public services are being disrupted over the Treasury’s determination to cut 100,000 civil service and public sector jobs. Public sector employees are also upset that Chancellor Gordon Brown is insisting that pay raises for public sector positions be limited to the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2 percent. The strike, scheduled for 24 hours, could be followed by further actions if its concerns are not addressed, the PCS has said.

The current action has halted the processing of tax returns on the day that they are due and have reportedly prevented the delivery of at least one batch of returns to Revenue & Customs offices, possibly causing those taxpayers to be fined £100 for missing the deadline. Benefits offices were closed, and court proceedings – including the trial of six alleged terrorists – were put on hold. Picket lines set up by the union were also expected to close museums and galleries, including the British Library and the National Gallery. Union members were also expected to picket government departments.

The union’s demands include an end to the government’s efficiency drive, an end to the privatization of public services, and pay raises for workers that at least meet retail price inflation.

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