Strikers protest over pay and pensions in Cumbernauld
STAFF at the HMRC office and Job Centre went on strike last Thursday to protest against government proposals which will affect their pay and pensions.
Plans have been announced to cut pensions for public sector staff, increase their contributions and also raise the retirement age for workers.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are protesting the cuts and say the changes will mean people will be working longer, while paying more of their salary towards their pension, only to receive a reduced income when they have retired.
A strike was arranged outside the HMRC office with a picket line standing near St Mungo’s Steps to show the union’s anger at the proposals.
The government says that the proposed changes are fair to tax payers and highlighted that public sector pensions are some of the best available.
Among those involved in the industrial action was Andy Parker, a 41-year-old human resources employee at HMRC.
Andy said: “The government are changing the way they calculate our pensions and they are doing that without consultation or negotiation.
“As it stands I would be set to lose about £1700 of benefits that I previously would have had. All this is to bail out the banks. MPs should start with their wages if they want to make cuts.”
The strikes gathered some political support in Scotland despite parties in Westminster slamming the action.
The Scottish Socialist party supported the strike and party member John Miller, also the PCS office secretary, attended the picket line outside St Mungo’s Steps.
John said: “There seems to be one rule for the rich and one rule for the rest. David Cameron has no understanding of how ordinary people have to live with the rise in costs.
“He is trying to reduce debt but he is putting the burden on the small people. He should be doing it to his friends that receive tax cuts.
“The pensions cuts will create about £4.6billion, but the tax relief for those earning more than £100,000 per year amounts to about £10billion.”
Between 15-20 workers formed the picket line at St Mungo’s steps throughout the day, which was relatively well supported.
Rachael Paton, branch secretary of PCS for Cumbernauld, said: “The government are saying that we are all in the cuts together but there’s no evidence of that.
“It’s us that seem to be paying the price – but our members have shown by their solidarity today that we are not prepared to accept that.”