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UNION leaders claim “several hundred” public sector workers in Peterborough went on strike against pension and retirement age changes yesterday.
City members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) were among the hundreds of thousands who staged walkouts nationally as they oppose Government plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 68 and end final salary pensions.
The walkout affected the city’s magistrates’ court, the Passport Office, the Land Registry, Jobcentre Plus and the Revenue and Customs office, the PCS say. However, the disruption caused seemed to be minimal with services still running.
Some 100 police officers from Cambridgeshire travelled to London on their days off to join a protest march against the level of cuts forces are being forced to make.
Meanwhile in March, around 80 prison staff staged a protest at HMP Whitemoor in action organised by the Prison Officers Association (POA).
Richard Edwards, the regional secretary for the PCS in Peter- borough, said: “It has been very strongly supported and the message we are giving to the Government is that it may have given the impression these changes are done and dusted, but these workers in Peterborough are saying: ‘No, it’s not’.
“The struggle will go on. Our members are not prepared to accept that they will have to keep on working until they are 68, which will be the highest retirement age in Europe.”
Oz Merrygold, deputy general secretary of the Cambridgeshire Police Federation, was one of the officers who marched in London yesterday.
He is unhappy with the level of cuts being imposed on the police force, which has contributed to a reduction in police officers serving in Peterborough by almost 50 in the last two years.
He said: “One of the main reasons we’re marching is because of the frustration at the Government which is enforcing cuts which are changing the fundamental nature of policing.”
A Home Office spokesman said that there was some disruption at the city’s Passport Office yesterday, but for the most part it was business as usual.
He said: “We had contingency plans in place and made every effort to provide passport services as usual.
“There may have been some disruption but we took every measure to ensure our services remained open.”
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “These strikes will achieve nothing but will inconvenience potentially thousands of people in Peterborough. Many will be sympathetic to public sector workers over changes to pensions and working practices but it’s what has already happened in the private sector.”
STRIKERS: PCS union members strike outside Peterborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday.