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PCS strikes: 'We are being pushed right into a corner'
Public Sector Workers who say they feel "attacked" by governmental cuts took to the picket lines across South West Hertfordshire today.
Prison, job centre and tax representatives from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) were on strike this morning, hours ahead of George Osborne’s annual Budget.
James Meller, Branch Secretary for the Department of Work and Pensions Watford Branch, said: "Workers feel their conditions of service are being attacked.
"Our pay has been frozen and we are receiving less money, doing more work with less staff."
Mr Meller added: "We feel we are being pushed right into a corner."
An employee at the Job Centre for 20 years, Mr Meller said the government has not consulted with the unions and they want to open negotiations.
"We are more than over due a pay rise. Members of staff are in spiralling debts because everything has gone up while our wages haven’t."
Jon Walford, PCS representative and administration officer at HMRC Watford, said, while the primary dispute is about their pay, which has been frozen for the past four years, they are also concerned about the closer of the enquiry centre network across the country.
There are 281 HMRC enquiry centres across the country, employing approximately 1300 people.
Mr Walford, an employee at HMRC Watford for 28 years, said the centre is a valuable service and, if it closes, people will not have anywhere else to go, instead they will be forced to use the website and telephone services.
David Johnson, another admin officer at HMRC Watford, added: "The government’s plan is to put people onto a telephone network which is already bursting at the seams."
Staff at the Mount Prison in Bovingdon were also on strike.
Jagtar Singh Dhindsa, a PCS representative at the Category C prison, said public sector cuts were making conditions unsafe for staff and worse for prisoners.
Mr Dhindsa said the government wants to change their working conditions, making them worse, and family-friendly hours are going.
Mr Dhindsa added: "The prison service has been cutting the budget for the last five years and there is not much flesh left on the bone. We are coming to the situation now where inside it is not really safe and the conditions for prisoners are getting worse."