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DEFRA staff back on picket line

WORKERS who helped tackle the foot and mouth crisis have resumed strike action at Crewe.

WORKERS who helped tackle the foot and mouth crisis have resumed strike action at Crewe.

More than 200 of 250 staff at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) picketed the Electra Way headquarters on Thursday and Friday.

Union bosses said workers are determined not to give in and are prepared to go 'as long as it takes' to win better pay.

The move is the latest in a rolling programme of industrial action spearheaded by the Public and Commercial Services Union.

It claims that staff, responsible for farmers' grants and subsidies, are poorly paid compared with other Government workers.

The pay dispute boiled over when MAFF was replaced by DEFRA after the General Election.

It was believed that it was nearing a solution before the latest action as senior managers appeared to be seeking additional cash from the Treasury.

But Crewe-based spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union, Mike Baker accused bosses of 'dragging their feet' in putting together a business case for the new money.

He said: ''We believe that management thought that if, after a couple of weeks or so of industrial action we had not gained significant concessions on the pay front, then the collective towel would have been thrown in.

'This has proven not to be the case and union members have become all the more determined.'

Negotiator Sheila Pickman said that MAFF was made into a scapegoat during the foot and mouth crisis.

A spokesman for DEFRA said they regretted the strikes but added that two other unions had accepted the Government's pay offer of 3.5%.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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