Making their voices heard in city protest

Portsmouth council leader condemns Barcelona attack

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AS GEORGE Osborne stepped up to announce this year’s budget yesterday, workers in Portsmouth were making their voices heard as they went on strike.

Members of the Portsmouth Trades Council (PTC) and Portsmouth Against the Cuts Together (PACT) were in Guildhall Square protesting about issues with pay, working conditions and pensions.

Up to 250,000 civil servants in the PCS were on strike across the country yesterday. Rallies and demonstrations were held nationwide.

In Portsmouth, some held banners and placards which read ‘No cuts, fight for every job’.

Others waved flags and voiced messages across loudspeakers.

Patrick Smyth is branch chairman of the local Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, which represents employees of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

He said members were looking for a pay rise of five per cent or £120,000 from the government.

‘This is a figure that we have lost due to pay freezes, inflation, food costs, fuel costs and an increase in pension contributions,’ he said.

And he said that going on strike made their point.

‘It’s been very good. There has definitely been a reduction in services and a reduction in people trying to use the contact centres,’ he said.

‘As civil servants we don’t tend to be that demonstrative but today I think we had a very good turnout of people coming along to listen to what we had to say.’

Alan Dennis, of the PCS National Executive Committee, said: ‘The purpose is to take action to force the government to come to negotiations.

‘They are cutting our terms and conditions and increasing our pension contributions.

‘Any decent employer would sit round a table and talk to the people who represent their workforce. Our employer is refusing to do that.’