Members of the PCS walked out on strike at 1pm on Friday 5 April and continued their strike action until the following Monday when they staged a mass “walk-in” at 1pm. In Portsmouth, Ministry of Defence jobs and working conditions at the Naval Dockyard are under threat. Sion Reynolds, vice-chair of the Portsmouth trades council, reports from the picket lines in Portsmouth.
Members of the PCS walked out on strike at 1pm on Friday 5 April and continued their strike action until the following Monday when they staged a mass “walk-in” at 1pm. In Portsmouth, Ministry of Defence jobs and working conditions at the Naval Dockyard are under threat.
“I am tired of our jobs and rights being eroded,” said Janet Niemand, a secretary for naval personnel and family services. “Morale is low, we work hard and don’t deserve to be treated like this.”
Janet McGinley, an administration support worker for naval personnel and family services, agreed. “Everything I joined for is being eroded. It used to be a job for life but now it isn’t.”
“They’ve let too many people go,” said Geoff Lange, Portsmouth branch secretary for the PCS. “A lot of people are doing more than they are resourced to do, too much is being asked of current workers.”
Portsmouth Against the Cuts Together (PACT) Committee Member Simon Magorian said: “It is important to support everyone who is fighting for their livelihoods. Cuts are manifestly not working – they are punishing the poor.”
In the centre of Portsmouth at Wingfield House, offices of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are threatened with closure. Members picketed the workplace prior to their Monday lunchtime “walk-in”.
One striker named David said of the strike: “To my mind it is justified. They just have no respect for the people working for them. It shouldn’t simply be that they want more and more out of us and put less and less in.”
His colleague, Polly said: “If Wingfield House closes there is potential for 400 job losses. Obviously this will affect the local economy. There will be only one HMRC office left – in Cosham.”
In any potential restructure staff currently at Wingfield House may be relocated to the Lynx House office in Cosham, which is four miles outside Portsmouth centre.
Another striker by the name of Skippy added: “If we are relocated people commuting from the Isle of Wight will have an hour each way added to their journey.” He added, “Two hundred enquiry centres are going to go. Public services will be no more, soon. The Tory Government keep attacking it. It’s disgusting.”