Swansea DVLA Picket Line Solidarity

31st May 2013

For once it was nice weather for the PCS pickets at the DVLA in Swansea, when I went to give solidarity greetings on behalf of the Trades Council and Swansea Socialist Party, on my way to work.

PCS members in the Department of Transport and the Land Registry were on strike today as part of a programme of departmental action that will see DWP and HMRC members striking next Thursday, with a solidarity rally in Cardiff’s Temple of Peace.

Pickets today told me that they were striking over a raft of issues. These include:

  • Pay - this is the 4th consecutive year that they've been offered no cost of living pay award.
  • Privatisation – you can see giant private firms like IBM and Fujitsu muscling in to the public sector in pursuit of profit at the DVLA.
  • Job cuts – the decision to close the DVLA regional offices is leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs around the country.
  • Attacks on union facilities – one of the pickets at the DVLA was a PCS branch official who’s seen his facility time cut by 50% already.

Despite all these, and more, attacks, the pickets were resolute and aware that this is a fight that has to be won. I’ve always experienced a good reception on PCS picket lines. The only unfriendly greeting I had was from a visiting Labour MP who made sneering comments about selling ‘magazines’ (The Socialist). When I offered her one she told me she’d “been there, done it and got the T-shirt”. It was good to see a Labour politician who knows what a picket line is; it’s just a shame that the majority of Labour MPs didn’t back John McDonnell MP’s attempt to defend the right to strike of PCS members in the Home Office and Border Agency earlier this year, with their votes in Parliament. Each of the 3 pickets the MP had been talking to when I arrived bought a paper off me.

On to the next action in this dispute – there is transport from Swansea to Cardiff for the strike solidarity rally next Thursday – contact carrieannewatkins@hotmail.co.uk to reserve a place.
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