Union Boss Calls For Anger Over Strikes To Be Directed At Tories: 'We're Paying The Price!'

Mark Serwotka said it "can't be right" that the public is paying for the government's errors.
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) general secretary Mark Serwotka
Kirsty O'Connor - PA Images via Getty Images

The public frustration over this winter’s strikes should be aimed at the government, not workers, a union boss claimed.

Border Force employees have just joined the growing number of public sector workers who will be walking out of their jobs in the next month over pay, potential job cuts and change in pension rules.

The workers will strike between December 23 and 26, and again from 28 until 31, impacting Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.

This is on top of the eight days of strikes organised by railway workers, and the NHS walkouts expected in the coming months.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary Mark Serwotka claimed that any anger over the walkouts should not be directed at employees.

He said: “This is a crisis. We have tried for months to negotiate with the government and we have been ignored.

“We keep being told the government has an open door, but there is no point the door being open if there is nothing behind that door.”

He claimed no money had been made available to settle a dispute – and that the government is the cause of this, and they could solve it immediately.

“We apologise for any inconvenience,” Serwotka explained, “but I want to be clear, whether it’s your driving test, you’re on a motorway, or you want to get back through an airport, your anger should be directed at Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt, and the Tory government who crashed our economy, making all those people worse off on an ideological binge.”

This is thought to be a reference to the disastrous mini-budget introduced by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng during their short time in office, which brought chaos to the economy.

Serwotka also said we were “now paying the price” for those errors, which “can’t be right”, hence the strike action.

The union boss also explained that many of their members were seriously struggling, with 40,000 reportedly using food banks.

Serwotka said: “My first primary responsibility is to the people I deal with, often in tears, who are sending their kids to school without feeding them, who are not putting the heating on, who are claiming benefits and using food banks.

“They work for the government and yet they’re on poverty wages.

“Those people will lose pay when they go on strike.

“They do it as a last resort and the job of a union is to make sure that the action that we call is noticed.”

He said it was “no good” calling a strike when no-one notices, as the purpose of calling it at Christmas is to get the government to realise “they can’t do without the people they take for granted”.

“And while it would be a nice notion to call for any industrial action in the public sector which didn’t inconvenience people, of course the point would be ... of not calling any strikes.”

He said that the walkouts are designed to have “maximum impact”.

He also told Sky News, “There’s plenty of scope for us to escalate further” unless Downing Street acts with the “crisis of poverty and lack of resource” fo frontline services.

PCS union said that 86% of its 100,000 member across 124 government departments and public sector employers voted in favour of the “unprecedented” walkouts.

The Home Office said it was “disappointed” at the decision to strike, as it “will cause an inconvenience to the public and business”.

The spokesperson added: “We are working closely with all UK ports and airports and have robust plans in place to minimise any delays if strike action goes ahead. However, passengers should be prepared for disruption.

“Those intending to travel over strike days should plan ahead and contact relevant travel operators before travelling to check how the proposed strike action will affect their journey.”


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