Union disputes Charity Commission figures on strike action

PCS says 350 staff refused to work in protest at redundancy proposals, not 215

The Public and Commercial Services Union has disputed Charity Commission figures on how many of its staff observed the union's civil service strike earlier this week, but the regulator insists they are accurate.

A commission spokeswoman told Third Sector that 215 of the commission's 500 staff had observed the strike on Monday and Tuesday, which was called to protest at reductions in civil servants' redundancy entitlements.  

But Nigel Gealy-Andrews, the PCS branch secretary at the commission's London office, said that about 350 commission staff had observed the strike, including about 170 of the regulator's 200 Liverpool staff and 150 of its 180 staff in Taunton.

He also disputed the commission's claim that all four of its offices had remained operational during the strike. He said all nine of the commission's Newport staff had observed the strike, forcing the office to close on both strike days.

In the London office, where union membership is much lower, between a quarter and a third of the commission's 100 staff had observed the strike, he said.

A spokeswoman for the commission insisted that only 215 staff had been absent because they were on strike. "As with all offices, there were other members of staff who wouldn't have been in the office that day, such as those at external meetings or training courses, those with pre-authorised annual or sick leave, and part-time workers who don't work on those days," she said.

She said that "no external meetings or engagements" had been cancelled at the Newport office and that its telephone service had been responded to by staff in Taunton.

A statement on the PCS website says more industrial action, originally planned for 19 March, has now been rearranged for 24 March, the date of the Budget, to "exert maximum pressure on the Government to resolve this dispute through discussions".

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