A little under two weeks after fielding a solid 98% turnout in the HMRC Jobs & Staffing strike, PCS members in Bootle Taxes Branch delivered another solid turnout for action. This time, around 96% of members struck in support of the demand for a pay rise, as part of a 1.5 million strong strike across the public sector.
The picket lines on the Triad and Litherland House were up and running from early on, with reps and members out in force. We had considerable support from the public as they passed both on foot and in cars, and also a flying visit from local Unite pickets who stopped to chat with those on our line.
Elsewhere in Bootle, among generally vibrant and solid picket lines a particular highlight was the 50 strong picket at Redgrave Court, the main strength of which came from Ministtry of Justice Shared Services members, galvanised by the threat of outsourcing and job losses. Some of our reps joined their picket when they took strike action on 30 June over that issue and our branch’s solidarity is with them in that dispute as it is with all workers in struggle.
After the morning picketing was done, although a solid presence remained at the Triad where the line holds until 5pm, pickets headed to the Pier Head for a mass march and rally in Liverpool. Several thousand people were in attendance, and a colourful and vibrant march wound its way from the Pier Head and through the City Centre to St George’s Hall. There was again broad support from the public, who applauded marchers as they passed. During the subsequent rally, a show of hands demonstrated overwhelming support for escalating the action from this point.
What happens next is vital. At PCS Conference earlier in the year, Bootle Taxes delegates voiced our members’ concerns that we could not win through isolated single day strikes, months apart. There is a need for sustained campaigning, and strikes that are not merely a protest with loss of pay but which cause effective disruption to the employer. This goes for the Jobs & Staffing Campaign in HMRC as well as for the wider campaign over pay, pensions, jobs and terms and conditions.
The branch will continue to organise and keep members informed of developments as the campaigns progress. In the meantime, we would like to thank all members who took strike action, in particular those who came along and joined the picket line and the march and rally. Solidarity to our comrades across the civil service, to teachers and school support staff, to firefighters and local government workers.