As civil servants across Manchester and Salford went on half day strike today, a rally outside Manchester Civil Justice Centre heard how horrendous attacks on their terms and conditions are linked to wider ConDem Government attacks on the community.
"This is Government by a party of millionaires, Eton and all that" explained Dave Vincent from the PCS union "Unlike the Labour shower before them, this lot aren't interested in having term of government after term of government – they're millionaires, the MP salary is chicken feed to them. They want one term, this term, to smash the whole of the public sector and welfare state.
"Even 70% of Tory voters believe they are going to lose at the next election but Cameron and his cronies are not bothered, they're not interested in reining in the attacks so they get re-elected" he explained "Their mission in five years is to smash the public sector and welfare state, so that when Labour come in there's nothing left for them to defend.
"And Labour, to their shame, are not promising to reverse any of the cuts" he added "So the answer to that is that we can't wait until 2015 and hope that Labour are going to make everything ok. They are saying nothing, so we have to fight now."
The list of attacks on civil servants is shocking. Higher pension payments to get less back on retirement. Pay cuts. Annual leave and flexi-time cuts. Even cuts to the amount of time union representatives are allowed to sort fellow workers' grievances.
"Why are there constant non-stop attacks on us?" asked Dave Vincent "Dead simple. In order to open us up to business we've got to be cheap enough for business to express an interest in bidding for our services. And because the public sector is more unionised than the private sector we cost too much for the private sector to come in and bid for our services.
"Hence they want to make it cheaper to get rid of us on redundancy, they don't like taking on our pension commitments so they have to attack those, they don't like the pay levels that we've got …They don't want to take on staff that have better terms and conditions than their own staff" he explained "All this is about getting us ready for privatisation."
Joining the rally was Justine Lee, who works at the court in Prince William House in Salford Business Centre… "I'm on half day strike" she said "to carry on fighting and to do what we can to make the Government back down."
It's a rolling strike, with other Salford civil service workers at HMRC having a `walk-in' on Monday at 1pm, after a half day strike in the morning.
"Basically this is just one of the multiple of things PCS members are going to be doing right across the country over the next three months" said Paula Wood PCS NW Regional Organiser "It's disgraceful what this Government is trying to do, the arrogance of not even sitting down and talking to us.
"These people who are on strike will sleep soundly tonight, knowing that they're not only fighting for their terms and conditions that have been negotiated over years, but they will also sleep soundly knowing that they are fighting for public services that we all pay into one way or another" she added "At this point we are going to fight this Government because their arrogance is unbelievable."
Joining the colourful rally, which had the PCS band drumming out tunes and bubbles pouring from a machine, was Manchester Trades Council's Geoff Brown.
"This has been a union city for 200 years, where generations have fought to improve the lives of people who work here" he said "What we face now is an attack unparalleled in our lifetime. This week we see an attack on the benefits system, we see the introduction of the Bedroom Tax…and we see a group of workers here standing up and showing the way forward..."
See also previous Salford Star article on Civil Service strike - click here