Union workers ‘fight’ against austerity on Budget day as PCS hold Manchester city centre demo

By Alex Bysouth & Chris Bailey

Striking against cuts is the only choice left for the Private and Commercial Services Union, according to their Manchester representative.

In a demonstration at Piccadilly Gardens ahead of The Budget on Wednesday, PCS members gathered to voice their anger over cuts to pay, pensions and working conditions.

And Alex Davidson, Manchester representative for the PCS, believes it is the only course of action with ministers refusing to open talks with the union.

 “This is the only option we have got – we either fight on and stand a chance of winning or do nothing,” he said.

 “Otherwise we will get ridden rough-shod by a government which is determined to protect its friends in the city at the cost of almost everybody else in society.”

Mr Davidson added an estimated 20% of public sector workers are worse-off today than in 2010.

“We are making a political point but also an industrial point,” he added. “The workers themselves are vital for service delivery and for the government to function.”

A total of 80% of Manchester’s 12,500 PCS members – which include two HM Customs offices and Manchester Civil Justice Centre – went on strike.

Graham Woodhouse, 43, a Highways Agency representative, insists striking on Budget Day is ‘symbolic’.

“We want to send a message out not just to the government but to the country as a whole that you cannot cut yourself a way out of recession,” he explained.

“You couldn’t do it in the 30s and you can’t do it now.

“I will give you a saving – we are spending £120million on nuclear weapons with no intention of using them.”

Education Group Organiser Jim Rogers, a 38-year-old from Bury, is frustrated by the government’s plans to axe child care vouchers.

“The PCS has put out an alternative to austerity and we want to get the message out.” he said.

“If big companies and wealthy individuals weren’t able to play the system and get sweetheart deals then it could go a long way to closing the deficit right there and then.” 

As part of being opposed to austerity, the PCS do not align themselves with a political party as they do not represent their views.

Other members from non-politically affiliated unions came out to show their support – including the Fire Brigades Union’s North West representative, 55-year-old Kevin Brown from Manchester.

“Until either the government or opposition change their stance on austerity, we will continue to take action,” said Mr Brown, whose union represents approximately 95% of Greater Manchester’s firefighters.

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