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Now, civil servants gear up for strike

A union has announced a new strike date of 15 March, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to unveil his spring budget…reports Asian Lite News

More than 100,000 civil servants are to strike on budget day in an escalation of a dispute over pay, pensions and job security.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced a new strike date of 15 March, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to unveil his spring budget.

It follows a strike last week that saw hundreds of thousands of members in 123 government departments walk out across England, Scotland and Wales.

The union warned that next month’s strike could include a further 33,000 members working for 10 more employers, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), whose ballot results are due on 28 February.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “Rishi Sunak doesn’t seem to understand that the more he ignores our members’ demands for a pay rise to get them through the cost-of-living crisis, the more angry and more determined he makes them. PCS members are suffering a completely unacceptable decline in their pay. By April, one third of HMRC staff, for example, will be earning just the minimum wage. 40,000 civil servants have used a foodbank. It’s an appalling way for the government to treat its own workforce.”

Serwotka said the prime minister “can end this dispute tomorrow if he puts more money on the table”.

He warned: “If he refuses to do that, more action is inevitable.”

The PCS union is calling for a 10% pay rise, protections to pensions and protections from job cuts. The government has said the demands – which it says would cost £2.4 billion – are unaffordable.

The dispute is becoming increasingly bitter with Mr Serwotka calling talks last month to prevent the action a “complete farce” and warning future strikes “will be even bigger” if ministers do not act.

The strikes have impacted several key government departments and agencies including Border Force, National Highways, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The new members being balloted include those working for HMRC, the Welsh government, the Care Quality Commission and Companies House.

Civil servants are among the thousands of public sector workers striking over pay and conditions amid soaring inflation and a decline in living standards.

Nurses continued with their industrial action today after walking out on Monday alongside paramedics and call handlers in what was the largest strike in NHS history.

Environment Agency workers will walk out tomorrow, while teachers and university staff will continue with strikes next week.

Union leaders have implored the government to act to prevent further strike action, but ministers in England have indicated that they will not budge on one of the main points of contention – pay for 2022/23.

The Spring Budget in March will see Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who is in charge of the government’s finances, outline to the House of Commons his plans for taxation and spending.

The government has previously offered civil servants a 2% to 3% pay rise, but union bosses have been calling for a rise of 10%, a similar level to the rate of overall inflation in the UK, which is at a 40-year high.

Price rises have been squeezing household budgets and there has been a wave of strikes across the UK in sectors ranging from healthcare to railways in recent months.

The government said it valued the work of civil servants and added it was “committed to constructively engaging with unions”.

“But the PCS Union’s demands would cost an unaffordable £2.4bn at a time when our focus must be on bringing down inflation to ease the pressure on households across the country,” a spokesperson said.

“That is why public sector pay awards strike a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of public sector workers, while delivering value for taxpayers and being careful not to drive even higher prices in the future.”

More PCS strikes are planned this week with action at the DWP Liverpool, Bolton and Stockport this week. Further strikes involving members at the British Museum, DVLA, Animal and Plant Health Agency over the course of February.

The Border Force will also launch four-day walkouts on 17, 18, 19 and 20 February at four ports – Dover, Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk – to coincide with school half-term holidays. This will be Border Force’s second strike after it staged strikes at airports over Christmas.

Other unions are also planning to take action in February. Groups including nurses, railway workers, emergency services staff, teachers, and university workers will all participate in major strikes over the course of the month.

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Education India News Lite Blogs

Jamia a ‘second family’ for over 200 civil servants

The Jamia RCA provides free coaching to students for various government job competitive examinations. The students can take admission at the Jamia RCA only after passing an entrance exam…reports  Ganesh Bhatt

As many as 220 students have been selected in civil services in the last 10 years from the Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) established at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi. They say that the RCA is like their second home.

Apart from the students successfully cracking the civil services exam, another 376 students have been selected for top government institutions serving as Provincial Civil Service (PCS), Bank Probationary Officers, Reserve Bank of India, etc.

The Jamia RCA provides free coaching to students for various government job competitive examinations. The students can take admission at the Jamia RCA only after passing an entrance exam.

In 2020, 44 RCA candidates had cleared the UPSC exam which included the third exam topper Junaid Ahmed. In the same year, Sanchita Sharma of the Jamia RCA topped the list of successful candidates who cracked the UPSC exam. She prepared for the examination at the RCA hostel for the last two years.

Since its inception in 2010, Jamia’s RCA has contributed to producing more than 200 civil servants through the UPSC examination, currently serving in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), etc.

Apart from this, 245 students of the RCA have cracked Provincial civil services exam for the position of SDM and DSP, RBI (Grade-B), Assistant Commandant (CAPF), IB, Assistant Commissioner (Provident Fund) and Bank Probationary Officer, etc.

Farman Khan, an IAS officer working as an Assistant Collector in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, remembers his journey with the Jamia RCA, saying, “Jamia RCA is not a coaching academy for me but my second family.”

Farman told , “I have learned everything in life at the Jamia Millia Islamia. All my failures and all my success are related to Jamia. I became an IAS officer in 2019.”

Similar views have also been echoed by Harish Dayama, an IPS officer posted for the security of the Punjab Chief Minister. He says, “I am very fortunate that I joined the Jamia RCA. I had emailed RCA after reading about it in an online advertisement in 2011. I got a reply to my email from the RCA. I had just gone there asking for study material. RCA officials did not give me the study material but motivated me to take admission in their coaching academy.”

He said, “After that I took the RCA exam and took admission there. I could not clear the interview for the first round. After that I prepared again and got selected for the IPS in 2013. I can never forget the role of RCA in my success.”

Priyanka Shukla, an IPS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre credits the Jamia RCA for her success. When she could not succeed in cracking the UPSC exam even after spending huge money on another coaching institute, she then turned her attention to the Jamia RCA. She successfully aced the civil services exam in 2018 after joining the RCA and secured 109th rank in the UPSC exam.

Jamia Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar congratulated all successful candidates for their stupendous feat.

Sharing another successful story, a student of Jamia RCA did his schooling from a madrasa. Today, he is running a successful startup in the field of imparting early school education. The student has been identified as Shamshad Alam, who originally hails from Chhapra in Bihar. He has also studied from the Jamia RCA and completed his graduation and postgraduation degrees from the university. But, instead of taking up a regular job, he wanted to educate people and develop new employment opportunities for them.

Shamshad said that he has started his own educational institution in Arunachal Pradesh by the name of ‘Edunachal’. At present, it has three branches in different parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Training related to skill development, workshops, communication skills are being imparted in these institutions in coordination with various universities and colleges.

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