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The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has laid down the gauntlet to the government on pay, calling for coordination of union action across the country to push for above-inflation pay rises in the public sector.

Moving the motion at the Trades Union Congress in Manchester on Wednesday, the union highlighted the fact its members were still subject to a pay cap despite the government partially removing it for other public-sector workers.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Civil service workers and those in related areas were treated like second-class workers this summer when the government refused to lift the pay cap.

“PCS members voted 85% in a ballot for strike action and, although we were stopped by draconian anti-trade-union laws, this will not stop us balloting next year and coordinating pay campaigns with other unions.

“The message we have sent the government today is that unity is strength, and if unions stick together we can force the government to pay all our members the above-inflation pay rise they deserve.”

Since 2010 PCS members have been subject to a pay freeze and then a 1% pay cap. This year the government issued pay remit guidance of 1-1.5% for PCS members while lifting the cap for other public-sector workers.

Once again, the Government and Heads of HMPPS are under pressure as last week’s data from prisons in England and Wales is not good reading.

Following another week when prisons have again been in the news for all the wrong reasons, Leaders of the POA highlight the unprecedented levels of violence, self-harm and deaths.

In the last seven days there were 37 prisoner on prisoner assaults, 8 involving homemade weapons and 5 of a sexual nature.

In the same period 33 members of staff were the victim of unprovoked assaults some of these serious, 7 involved “potting” an assault, which is becoming more prevalent as prisoners throw urine and excrement over staff to repay debt or to humiliate them. 1 member of staff was rushed to hospital and 14 others had to attend A&E for treatment.

In the same period 13 prisoners were also escorted to local hospitals placing increasing pressure on an overstretched NHS.

Last week there were 12 reported deaths, 5 from self-harm and 7 believed to be from Natural Causes with a significant number of prisoner self-harm incidents reported.

These incidents are stretching the prison system to breaking point.

Surrey’s Chief Fire Officer Russell Pearson has been removed from post just months after he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal, it has been revealed today (20 July).

The Fire Brigades Union says it fears Surrey County Council (SCC) ousted him as punishment for his repeated warnings that planned budget cuts would leave Surrey Fire and Rescue Service unable to protect the public.

Richard Jones, executive council member for the FBU in south east England, said: “I am in no doubt that the only reason SCC would replace Russell Pearson is so they can get someone in to do a hatchet job, solely to make cuts without any regard to public or firefighter safety.

“With emergency response times in Surrey at their slowest since 1996, the number of fires we attend and rescues we make increasing year on year since 2015, further cuts are absolutely absurd and show SCC are prioritising monetary savings ahead of public safety.”

Since 2010, the council have cut £20m from the service budget and they now plan to implement a further £5.5m worth of cuts between 2019 and 2021. As a result the number of firefighters in the county has plummeted by 40% resulting in chronic staff shortages. It means a number of fire appliances are unavailable to respond to emergencies because there are not enough firefighters to crew them.

Emergency crews have been cut in size to four despite SCC’s 2011 Public Safety Plan stating that it would crew all fire engines with five firefighters. Emergency control room staff have also been cut leading to call queuing and delays in getting critical information to emergency crews.

Mr Jones continued: “Further budget cuts will lead to firefighters being made redundant resulting in a 50% reduction in the already inadequate number of firefighters. This would create a woefully inadequate service that will result in saveable lives being lost”.

In June 2017, Surrey firefighters submitted a Motion of No Confidence in SCC’s fire authority. To date, the council has not met with FBU officials in Surrey with a view to resolving the serious public and firefighter safety concerns raised within it.

The FBU is urging residents to write and email their county councillors to voice their opposition to these dangerous arbitrary cuts the council wants to impose on them. Details can be found here: https://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx

THE FIREFIGHTERS' DILEMMA

TUCG: MARK SERWOTKA ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AUSTERITY

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BOOK: COST OF LIVING CRISIS

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By MIchael Calderbank

Foreword by Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

 

Buy now from www.radicalread.co.uk

Based on research commissioned by the TUCG, the book examines why costs have risen for all items of expenditure, ranging from housing and child care to food and transport. He makes practical proposals on how these costs can be reduced. He also delivers an uncompromising message to the leaders of all mainstream Westminster Parties: it is time to end the politics of austerity, an ideological project to cut the size of the state permanently.