Ex-minister Jake Berry mocks civil servants picketing outside government departments despite continuing WFH

1 February 2023, 13:52 | Updated: 1 February 2023, 13:56

Jake Berry criticised strikes outside the Treasury
Jake Berry criticised strikes outside the Treasury. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Emma Soteriou

Former Tory minister Jake Berry has mocked civil servants for turning up at picket lines outside government offices despite resisting returning from work from home.

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Mr Berry, who was previously Tory chairman, joked that he had not seen so many people at the offices "since the start of the pandemic".

Around 100,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union went on strike on Wednesday - including Border Force staff - amid disputes over pay and working conditions.

The day of industrial action also saw thousands of teachers, train and bus drivers walk out, marking the biggest single day of strikes in a decade.

Large pickets were seen outside the Treasury as well as the Department for Transport and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"I haven't seen this many civil servants in Westminster since the start of the pandemic," Mr Berry tweeted.

"Just a shame they've only come in to stand on a picket line. Back to #workingfromhome tomorrow."

Ministers have been trying to get more staff back in the office and put an end to working from home following the pandemic.

Read more: Striking teachers bring London to a standstill as 23,000 schools shut on 'Walkout Wednesday'

Read more: TUC chief tells LBC public support for strikes won't dwindle even if it forces people to miss a family funeral

Union boss Paul Nowak doesn't think industrial action needs a minimum service rule. 

Speaking on a picket line outside the Treasury, PCS head Mark Serwotka said: "PCS members are currently using food banks, they are claiming in-work benefits, tens of thousands of them are on the national minimum wage. That's a scandal.

"We are balloting a further 35,000 members including big departments like HMRC. All the indications in those ballots is they are going twice as well as they were last time.

"We have just announced further long-term strikes at the borders and the British Museum, and more of those will follow. If the Government wants to avert that disruption, put money on the table and let's start talking.

"For us they have said they are not prepared to consider a one-off payment because they consider 2022 pay as closed.

"Of course the crisis is now, people's energy bills are landing now, people are skipping meals already."