Picketing as part of the DVSA strikes in Poole, Dorset, last week

Government workers at some major DVLA offices joined strikes this week, alongside workers from the Rural Payments Agency.

PCS union members in Swansea and Birmingham began a five-day walkout from Monday of this week. The strike involves workers in the DVLA’s “drivers medical” department, who assess people’s medical ability to drive before giving them a license.

Workers at two DVLA offices in Newcastle were also set to strike, as were Rural Payments officers in Newcastle and Workington in Cumbria.

The strikes are part of a rolling plan of targeted action in a civil-service wide fight over pay, pensions and jobs. It follows strikes by DVSA workers—mainly driving examiners—in London, Wales and the south of England ending on Tuesday of this week.

Workers at jobcentres in Liverpool and Doncaster also struck. And there were strong picket lines at many of the striking workplaces—showing workers are up for the fight.

But the disruption hasn’t been enough to force government bosses to budge. They weathered strikes in recent weeks by Border Force staff at some major airports, and by National Highways officers who patrol and manage motorway traffic.

The union’s national executive committee was set to meet this week to discuss future action.

Socialist Worker supporters are arguing that the union should call all of its members in every department that voted to strike out together. Some 100,000 PCS union members have voted in favour of strikes.

If they came out together they could hit the government much harder, at a time when it also faces NHS, teachers’ and rail workers’ strikes. If all those workers struck together, it would be a major step forward.

Go to pcs.org.uk for a list of picket lines
Legal advisers and court associates in dozens of courts across Britain struck on Saturday of last week and were set to strike again this Saturday and on 21 January. The workers, members of the PCS union, are fighting after the rollout of a computer system called Common Platform that increases workload and stress and slashes jobs.

Strikes, not talks, are the way to win in Royal Mail

CWU union leaders have committed to not calling any more Royal Mail strikes for at least the whole of this month for further talks with bosses. In a statement to their members released on Friday of last week, union leaders Dave Ward and Andy Furey said Royal Mail bosses had agreed to a number of ­conditions for talks.

These include removing agency staff used to break the strikes, allowing the union to carry out another strike ballot and “reviewing” disciplinary cases against suspended reps.

It also said bosses would return to negotiating changes to deliveries and shifts with local reps.

In return, union ­leaders agreed not to call any more strikes until at least 20 January.

That means, if any more strikes do eventually get called, they will be well over a month after the December action that caused huge disruption and backlogs during Royal Mail’s busiest period.

Adam, a Royal Mail worker in Essex, told Socialist Worker that workers’ reaction to the statement had been “mixed.” But, he said, “There’s some anger that Royal Mail are being allowed to catch up with the strike.

“The strikes were so ­effective that Royal Mail still hasn’t completely caught up now. Why did we do all that if they’re going to be allowed to catch up during the talks?”

Royal Mail bosses haven’t budged on any of the issues at the centre of the dispute—the attacks on jobs and conditions, or on pay. And they haven’t agreed to reinstate any of the more than 130 workers victimised during the strikes.

Instead, in his own letter, chief executive Simon Thompson simply said the suspensions were “open to challenge”.

Royal Mail bosses have hinted at climbdowns before in order to delay action—only to insist that union leaders agree to their attacks in full.

“What have Royal Mail done to show they’re the slightest bit trustworthy?” said Adam. “It feels like the leadership are betting ­everything on getting a deal. I don’t see why they can’t have the talks without at least some more strike dates called to keep the momentum going.”

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