Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Scots civil servants join first Budget Day strike

picket line
The PCS Union said up to 90% of its members in Scotland went on strike

Thousands of civil servants in Scotland are taking part in the first ever strike on Budget Day, in a dispute over cuts to redundancy pay.

The 24-hour national stoppage was called by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

It comes after a two-day strike earlier in March saw up to 200,000 workers walk out over plans to cap redundancy pay.

That stoppage saw the cancellation of Scottish Parliament business as many MSPs refused to cross the picket line.

The PCS said up to 90% of its 33,000 members in Scotland joined the UK-wide action.

Picket lines formed outside the Scottish Parliament and the Labour Party Headquarters in Glasgow.

A spokesperson for Holyrood said around 16% of the total staff had gone on strike, but parliamentary business had continued with all seven committees taking evidence as expected.

The Scottish Conservatives had earlier called on other parties to cross the picket line at the parliament and said it would be "business as usual" for the party's MSPs.

picket line
The PCS Union said up to 90% of its members in Scotland went on strike

As well as Scottish government workers, civil servants working for UK government departments in Scotland such as the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and Ministry of Defence joined the strike.

Jobcentre staff, tax workers, coastguards and border agency officials were also involved.

The union has 270,000 members across the UK, and it has claimed workers could lose a third of their entitlement over cuts to the compensation scheme.

Under the new system - which takes effect in April and will save about £500m - anyone earning £30,000 or less will be entitled to a maximum of three years' pay or £60,000, whichever is lower.

'Their right'

Those earning £30,000 or more will be paid a maximum of two years' pay.

Currently, redundancy is calculated on length of service, with a month's pay for every year worked.

The PCS said an employee with 20 years' service earning £24,000 a year could lose £20,000 as a result of the new caps.

But the UK government said 80% of all staff would still get up to between two and three years' salary.

The strike comes on the same day as Chancellor Alistair Darling's last Budget before the general election.

The union's Scottish secretary, Lynn Henderson, said: "It is no coincidence that PCS members are striking on Budget Day.

"In Alistair Darling's constituency and in every constituency throughout the country, our members are taking action to defend their right to a fair redundancy."

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