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May Day in Nottingham (Round One)

John Shemeld | 01.05.2007 15:14 | Mayday 2007

The PCS civil service union celebrated May Day on May the first by going on strike, picketing and marching, including through Nottingham to a rally in the Congregational Hall. There will be a PCS speaker at Nottingham's May Day (Round Two) in the Brewhouse Yard on Saturday, 5 May.

Picket lines sprung up with the sunshine all over Nottingham this May Day. Besides the main civil service workplaces (Revenue and Customs, Department of Work and Pensions, Driving Standards Agency) all sorts of office blocks in the City, housing a civil service work unit, sprouted a PCS picket in the door way: many experienced pickets; many first time pickets.

It was the weather for picketing outside, not working inside, but Julie Webster reported from the Bowman House picket line that some determined arguing had persuaded two people not to cross. Elsewhere, the Driving Standards Agency had a barbecue round the back entrance. Everyone reported the Post being turned away.

Later up to 200 strikers marched through the City Centre, lead by the Grim Reaper, and with one in five of the marchers (the proportion of the work force facing cuts) wearing T-shirts labelled "Cancelled by the Exchequer".

At the rally after the march, a Stop the War stall gave out "Don't Vote for Warmongers" stickers (for the City Council elections) and the first speaker, Gill Watts from Revenue and Customs, reported how the Nottingham PCS Town Committee had taken up the "Make Your Vote Count" campaign by writing to every prospective councillor in the area - 400 of them.

Paul Kenneally from the Gangmasters Licencing Authority (which, when it was first set up, tried to get away with not recognising the PCS!) talked about the spirit of May Day being international solidarity.

Ivan Wels, joint secretary of Nottinghamshire National Union of Teachers pointed out the areas of common struggle, and said that from its conference the NUT was committed to greater local co-operation between public sector unions.

This call was later echoed from the floor by John Allan from the government conciliation service (ACAS, which the Government refuses to use in its dispute with its own work force!), and Paul Williams, PCS Department for Transport Group President said that inter union co-operation in defence of "Public Service Not Private Profit" would be on the PCS Town Committee's agenda after the local elections.

Dave Bean from the PCS National executive brought solidarity greetings from the picket lines in Leicester and said that wherever he had gone, the response to the strike and the turnout on the picket lines were up on the last strike in January. He pointed out that while civil service pay was being held down, £19 billion (no mis-print!) was picked up in City bonuses. "This shows how abhorrent it is - the way the whole pay thing is going in this country," he said.

Dave argued that the PCS did not want more strikes, they wanted a settlement but, on the issues of pay, outsourcing, forced relocations, redundancies and privatisation, they had to be prepared to take more action if the Government remained obstinate. The National Executive would be onto it at their next meeting.

After the rally, strikers went off for the rest of the afternoon (and the evening, and a good chunk of the night) to a band in the Salutation.

May Day was celebrated properly in Nottingham.

John Shemeld
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