PCS and Unite members working for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) took strike action on a freezing cold January morning this week. This was their fourth day of action in order to defend their jobs from on-going Tory attacks. James Kilby reports on the struggle of the EHRC workers against Tory cuts.
PCS and Unite members working for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) took strike action on a freezing cold January morning this week. This was their fourth day of action in order to defend their jobs from on-going Tory attacks.
The ECHR is a non-departmental public body, set up to safeguard and enforce equality and human rights laws. It takes legal action against companies and individuals to enforce equality laws, as well as challenging government policy.
Over the past few months, the entire workforce of the ECHR has been threatened with losing their jobs, as the government seeks to implement a 25% budget cut. This comes on top of 70% cuts implemented since 2010, as workers are forced to foot the bill for the crisis of capitalism.
By using a redundancy selection process that is designed to select staff out of a role, 24 staff are still “at risk”, despite there being 39.5 roles vacant. The management’s excuse is that as well as cutting costs, they wish to implement a “culture change” at the organisation.
What kind of culture they have in mind is evident by the fact that of those still at risk, 11 are disabled, 9 are BME, and 9 are trade union reps – and this at the very organisation set up by the government to fight discrimination! A “culture” without trade union reps would be very agreeable to the management, who are tasked with making workers and the most vulnerable pay for the crisis of the billionaires and bankers.
A PCS member on the picket line told Socialist Appeal: “We’ve been on strike now for four days; we’ve been really well supported. We don’t think it’s necessary that people lose these jobs. There is the money there, there are vacancies there, but management have been very hard line. We’ve had no choice but to strike.”
Socialist Appeal stands in full solidarity with the strike. Militant action is the way forward, as has been shown by recent actions of transport and delivery workers this winter.
Now is the time for the Labour Party and TUC to link up these various struggles, by preparing for a general strike. From fighting defensive struggles against the never-ending austerity programme, we must go on the offensive. Now more than ever, Corbyn, McClusky, and the other leaders of the labour movement must boldly stand for a socialist programme that makes the rich pay, putting an end forever to the nightmare of capitalism.