Wednesday, 29 June 2011

How Scotland fares in tomorrow's strikes

Scotland is facing the biggest public sector shut down in a generation on Thursday as thousands of workers take strike action over Coalition government cuts to their pensions.

There are close on 30,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in Scotland and many of them will join 750,000 public servants across the UK on strike in a row over pay, pension and jobs.

Staff in government departments and public agencies in every part of Scotland will walk out with their counterparts in England and Wales in the fight to protect their pensions and jobs against cuts.

One of the biggest picket lines in Scotland is expected at the Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde where civilian security staff are due to strike in large numbers.

Glasgow’s George Square will host the biggest trade union rally in years while in London all police leave has been cancelled as the city braces itself for mass protest action against the government.

The 24 hour walkout by public servants across the UK, joined by teachers in England and Wales, is expected to cause major disruption.

International airline passengers have been warned to expect delays at Scotland’s major airports at Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick when immigration and passport staff leave their posts.

Benefit offices and tax offices across Scotland will shut and court services could be hit where clerks to the court go on strike.

The Scottish government itself is preparing for paralysis as over 7000 staff in finance, administration, and ministerial drivers and security staff could walk off the job.

There will be pickets outside government headquarters at St Andrews House and Victoria Quay in Edinburgh, forcing Ministers to break the strike if they cross the lines.

There will also be picket lines at many prisons where prison officer and ancillary staff are members of the PCS union.

There will pickets at the Scottish parliament and Edinburgh castle, where members of Historic Scotland staff are striking. The Museum of Scotland staff will walk out and the National Galleries in Edinburgh could close due to staff shortages.

But the effects of the strike will be visible across Scotland. The Scottish Public Pensions Agency, at Tweedbank in Galashiels will be on strike; Forestry Commission staff, hit by massive job cuts announcement in Edinburgh, will be out.

The Students Awards Agency, in South Gyle in Edinburgh will be affected and the Student Loans company in Glasgow too.

The Accounts and Bankruptcy Agency Kilwinning in Ayrshire is expected to be 100 per cent solid behind the strike

The biggest, and perhaps most symbolic, picket line in the whole country will be at Faslane where government security guards are due to strike, forcing the military to take on civilian roles.

"I have never seen a build up to a strike like this," one of the trade union organiser told me.

Some 48 per cent of the public are sympathetic to the aims of strike action but there is a sustained media and government campaign to divide the trade unionists from other sections of the population.

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