‘UK government in blind panic over strike’
The chief of UK’s leading civil service union has accused the government of being in ‘blind panic’ after Home Office asked some government employees to work as border officers during pension strikes planned for next week.
Selected groups of government employees were contacted to walk through picket lines and check passports as passengers arrive at airports and ports from abroad during the industrial action planned for November 30 by public sector workers against pension reforms, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
The crisis-hit British government hopes to make annual savings of 2.8 billion pounds (USD 4.3 billion) by 2014 through reducing pensions, while forcing employees to work for longer years. Many of the workers are already facing wage freezes.
The General Secretary of Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Mark Serwotka said, “They are forcing people to work up to eight years longer, forcing people to pay thousands of pounds for less of a pension; it’s completely unfair.”
He criticized ministers for failing to prevent the move by calling unions in for urgent talks, despite months of warning about the strikes.
Serwotka noted that the government had been more interested in spinning over the issue rather than trying to handle the row, saying, “Yesterday in parliament it was revealed the prime minister misled parliament on the 2 November when he made claims about public sector pensions that have been shown to be false.”
“What that indicates is that rather than worry about the services on the day, rather than plan properly for 30 November, they have been engaging in a PR exercise putting out misleading information to try and force through damaging changes that are unfair. Less than a week before the strike, to suddenly turn round and act in a blind panic is completely irresponsible,” he added.
About four million public sector workers are expected to take part in the protest measure organized by Trade Union Congress (TUC), despite the government’s threats to cut the protesters’ pay and cancel out the concessions it has already made to them if they kept up the demonstrations for longer than 15 minutes.