Thousands in show of strength at rallies across the UK – PCS Union


“Our message to Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt is we are not going away. We can’t afford not win because there is a crisis of poverty and morale in the civil service.”

Mark Serwotka, PCS Union General Secretary

By the PCS Union

There was a sea of PCS flags outside Downing Street as thousands of our striking members joined a Budget Day lunchtime rally to call on the government to meet our demands for fair pay, pensions justice and job security.

Across the UK, tens of thousands of members had taken action and joined picket lines and lunchtime rallies in many places including Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh, London and Manchester, organised in many cases jointly with other striking unions and attended by thousands of people.

Thousands of PCS members paraded down Embankment towards Downing Street as part of the strike action, led by the PCS Samba Band.

Long-time PCS supporter, MP John McDonnell joined the strikers as they began their parade and said: “I have absolute solidarity with the strikers. We can’t continue on when civil servants are treated with such disrespect and are paid so little.

“We can’t allow our civil servants to be forced into poverty in this way. Trade union after trade union has taken industrial action today, coming together to force the government to act.”

At our rally outside Downing Street, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka was full of praise for the tens of thousands of members on strike today and had a defiant message for the government: “Our message to Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt is we are not going away. We can’t afford not win because there is a crisis of poverty and morale in the civil service. If all the staples of life are going up 16% and you have a pay rise of 2%, you have got a crisis in your cost of living.”

Watch the videos of the London march and rally on our Facebook page.

In Belfast more than 500 braved the freezing weather to attend a rally. Unite marched down to join PCS, then Nipsa, UCU, GMB and Unison.

Great turnout in Trafalgar Square

Thousands of union members then went on to Trafalgar Square for a joint union rally to call for better pay and conditions for public sector workers.

Members of PCS, Prospect and the National Education Union gathered in front of a stage near Nelson’s column to hear speeches.

Thousands of people cheered as PCS President Fran Heathcote, took to the stage and gave a speech at the rally.

She told strikers: “We want to send a clear message to this government today. When they tell us they don’t have enough money to pay us a decent wage, tell us we have to put up with worse terms and conditions, and lower pensions, because it’s all about the economy and what they can afford, let me tell you this: they are lying.

“If we’re going to defeat them, we have to unite like never before. That means joint campaigns, joint demands, joint activity. It also means coordinated, joint strike action so that we can put the maximum pressure on this government, and that’s what worries them the most.

“Today has been huge, it’s been a fantastic show of strength.”

Mark also spoke at the rally, praising all the different unions who were on strike. He told the crowd: “What a fantastic turnout, everyone here should be proud of what you’ve done today, and you should remember this day as the day we all stood up and made a difference.

“What I want to say to all our educators who are on strike, the Tories may moan about the disruption, but I say this, the best lesson young people can learn, they have learned today. It’s about solidarity, it’s about standing up for yourself when other people are treating you badly, and it’s about the fact that while Jeremy Hunt knows the cost of everything, you know the value of everything, including your own importance to our future.

“On a personal note to our junior doctors who are here today: the last time you were on strike, I was in hospital for five months having a heart transplant and it was you that kept me alive. It was because of you I’m here today. We stand with every junior doctor and health worker.

“I also want to say solidarity to RMT, Aslef and all the other workers who are striking today.

“To our PCS members: we have 133,000 people on strike today in over 130 government departments. These people are all on strike, and we are proud of each of our members who have taken action today.

“What we’re saying is: absolutely no way, we are not having it, and we’re going to strike until we win.”

Featured image: PCS members mobilise in Central London for Walkout Wednesday on March 15th.

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