Members at the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Manchester held their last picket line this morning (9 June) in a series of strikes that began in Glasgow on 15 May then rolled on to London and Cardiff.
The dispute is centred around our demand to reinstate eight workers sacked by e-mail in February from an organisation with 47 current vacancies.
Support for the series of strikes in Manchester has been good throughout the week and attendance on the picket line in the city centre has been high.
Monday’s picket line was kept deliberately low-profile due to the tragic events in the city over the previous weekend. Members of the public were giving out knitted hearts in memory of the event. There was a police presence but it was friendly.
On Tuesday there was again good support on the picket line despite the rain. PCS DWP, MoJ and DCLG reps and members came down to give support and solidarity along with the local trades council. Strikers had conversations with the public and also with one or two members who were going to cross the picket line: they convinced them to support the strike.
On Wednesday a strike meeting was held after the picket line where PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh addressed members and gave national union backing to the strike and Martin Cavanagh, NEC member and DWP GEC member, also brought solidarity and support to strikers.
Setting a standard on workers’ rights
On Thursday there was again a successful picket with visits from PCS reps from as far away as Bradford. They commented how important this strike is because EHRC sets a standard on workers’ rights and enforces other employers to treat staff properly. If the EHRC isn’t doing that, all our rights our weakened.
For the last day of this strike action, visitors to the picket line kept the strikers’ spirits up with gifts of cakes and other donations.
One member said “What a great morning. There was a real buzz at the picket line today in so many ways. If all the newly elected MPs came to our picket today they would know exactly what moves to make next and in what direction they need to take us.”
Reps and PCS full time officials will now be discussing how to take the campaign forward and how the new government will impact on the future of the EHRC.