Strikes hit Norwich public services
Jon WelchJobcentres, tax offices, coastguard stations, driving test centres, courts and prisons faced disruption today and tomorrow as up to 15,000 civil servants across the Eastern region took part in a 48-hour strike.Jon Welch
Jobcentres, tax offices, coastguard stations, driving test centres, courts and prisons faced disruption today and tomorrow as up to 15,000 civil servants across the Eastern region took part in a 48-hour strike.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) walked out in a dispute over changes to their redundancy terms.
Among the offices affected were the Jobcentre Plus benefits centre in Mountergate, Norwich and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Prince of Wales Road.
The Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission and Office of Government Commerce, Thorpe St Andrew, as well as magistrates' and Crown courts were also affected, along with DVLA offices and test centres, jobcentres, tax offices and prisons.
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The government said the changes would save �500m in taxpayers' money. Five other civil service unions have already reached agreement over the reforms, which ministers insist include "additional protection" for public sector workers on the lowest incomes and nearing retirement.
But Richard Edwards, PCS regional secretary, said: 'With civil and public service jobs increasingly at risk, this is a cynical attempt to cut jobs on the cheap which will ultimately damage the services we all rely on.
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'The cuts to the redundancy scheme will see loyal civil and public servants lose tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job.'
He said strike action was a 'last resort', and added: 'The government needs to recognise that it can't cut jobs on the cheap and reach a negotiated settlement that protects our existing members' rights.'
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has put contingency plans in place to ensure that an emergency service will be provided, but has reminded the public to take extra care whilst on the sea, beach or cliffs, and has urged boat users to think carefully about their plans.