Hundreds to walk out in pension cuts row

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HUNDREDS of Wigan civil servants are set to take part in a new wave of pensions unrest.

Employees from workplaces ranging from Wigan Infirmary to Wigan and Leigh College to Job Centres and the Magistrates and County Court are now set to walk out tomorrow for a 24-hour strike,

The Wigan branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) expects more than 1,000 members to support the call for further industrial action joining more than 400,000 striking trade unionists nationwide.

Wigan Job Centre in King Street is expected to be closed by strike action for the first time in recent years.

Wigan Trades Council will stage a public really at the Unite union offices in Hallgate between 10.30am and 11.30am with a variety of union and Labour movement speakers.

Picket lines are expected outside the DWP Makerfield Benefits Centre at Griffin House as well as the Job Centres in Leigh, Ashton, Atherton, Wigan and Leigh College and the magistrates’ court.

The walk-outs follow November’s huge stoppage by more than a million workers in protest at the planned changes to public sector pensions.

Most public sector unions remain opposed to the reforms which they say will leave millions of workers having to pay more for their pensions, retire later and receive less when they stop work.

Along with the armed forces and prison officers, police are banned by law from taking action although their Police Federation union have also raised a public protest about the changes.

Government ministers say the current level of public sector pensions is “unsustainable” and that workers will still receive “decent” payments on retirement.

But Branch Secretary of Wigan PCS Department for Work and Pensions branch Chris Holmes said staff felt the Coalition were making public sector workers shoulder an unfair weight in the battle to reduce the deficit.

He said: “The Coalition has reduced tax for super-earners while making cuts to vital public services like Job Centres and tax collection.

“Public sector workers have seen thousands of their colleagues sacked, their pay has been frozen for two years and they are now being told they must pay much more and work for up to eight years longer for smaller pensions.

“That’s why hundreds of Wigan workers will be striking on Thursday in opposition to the Government’s prescription of austerity and misery that has plunged the UK back into recession.”