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DEFRA Staff Strike for Equal Pay

Steve Moorcroft | 20.08.2001 20:28

DEFRA staff start a campaign for pay parity with other Civil Service Departments with a highly succesful one day all out strike.

Civil servants at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (formerly MAFF & part of DETR) went on strike today as part of their campaign for improved pay and conditions. Junior grades working at the Department can earn as much as £4,000 per year less than workers in equivalent jobs in the former DETR (now DLTR). Efforts by the PCS (Public & Commercial Services) union to negotiate an adequate pay deal that would close the pay gap between ex-MAFF and ex-DETR staff resulted in management imposing a pay increase that would leave the gap even wider. The pay campaign has been very popular, with a large number of non-union members joining the PCS.

The strike today received widespread support from staff with about only 30 staff crossing picket lines in Exeter and as few as 12 attending work at the BCMS office in Workington. The main Headquarters office (Nobel House) saw fewer than 60 in attendance and these were forced to evacuate the building from 11.00am after a security alert unrelated to the strike.

Picketing at London offices was very successful, with a significant number of non-members joining the union on the morning rather than crossing picket lines. Workers from the Fire Brigade, Westminster College and other Government Departments brought messages of support and postal workers and others refused to cross picket lines in solidarity with the striking civil servants.

The protest in London finished with a lively rally in Victoria Tower Gardens. The speakers included local PCS union officials as well as supporters from the Food Standards Agency, the Benefits Agency, the DLTR and civilian staff from the Metropolitan Police Authority. In an ironic twist those staff from Nobel House who failed to respect the picket lines found themselves stranded outside the building after a suspect package was delivered there.

The campaign will continue with selective strike action by key sections within the Department and a work to rule.

Steve Moorcroft
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