There has been good support for a strike by PCS members working as conciliators at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service taking action today (11) to protect their jobs and services.
The 24-hour action takes place despite attempts to resolve the dispute with members who have been taking action short of strike since 25 April.
Talks have been ongoing since July last year and PCS members plan to take two more days on 6-7 June if the dispute remains unresolved.
The changes imposed on staff by ACAS management include not only the downgrading of conciliation work, but also unmanageable workloads due to the increased number of employment tribunal claims following the Supreme Court victory by Unison on the issue of ET fees in 2017.
There have been good turnouts on picket lines in Manchester, London, Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham and Glasgow.
More than 50 people attended a lunchtime rally in support of the strikers at Piccadilly Gate in Manchester. There were great contributions from PCS NEC member Angela Grant and Acas rep Suzy Farrell.
There were picket line visits from members and officials of other unions including Unite, TSSA, UCU (including a delegation with a banner in London), NEU and GMB and messages of support from across PCS and the wider labour movement.
There were messages of support from a number of politicians, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd, and shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Labour MP Laura Pidcock said in a tweet: “Normally, when a resolution to a workplace dispute cannot be found, Acas steps in to conciliate. Today, PCS members at Acas are on strike, over the imposition of changes and unmanageable workloads. Show solidarity to them on their picket lines.”
There was also support from non-striking Acas PCS members and members of the public.
Commenting on the dispute, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Despite months of talks, our conciliator members at ACAS feel they have no choice but to take strike action. It really has come to something when people who run a conciliation service can’t negotiate effectively with their own workforce.
“Hopefully this action will show ACAS management that PCS members are serious about the real issues that need to be resolved. Two more days of strike are scheduled in June if management fail to listen.”
Show your support
Donate to the strike fund: cheques made payable to the PCS BEIS hardship fund can be sent to the BEIS group treasurer at 9 Medina Way, Upper Stratton, Swindon, SN2 7NW or money can be transferred to Unity Trust bank account 20240992 sort code 60-83-01.
Send messages of support to: Leeds@pcs.org.uk and tweet #conciliatethis and #noacascuts