forensic science - first ever national strike


On 9 June forensic scientists in England and Wales, members of the Prospect and Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), took part in the first-ever national strike in the service, in response to a pay offer worth only 1.1%. Picket lines were mounted outside laboratories in Chorley in Lancashire, Wetherby in West Yorkshire, Birmingham, London, Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire and Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

PCS general secretary Paul Noon said, "Offering dedicated public servants with a worldwide reputation for excellence only 1.1% is derisory. Their evidence is often crucial to a case, requiring a high degree of skilful analysis and years of training, yet they are the poorest paid professionals in the criminal justice system."

Currently the service is an executive agency of the Home Office serving all 43 police forces in England and Wales. But the Blair government has put forward plans to privatise the service in 2005. The union believes that the derisory pay offer is a crude attempt to keep down costs ahead of the controversial plans to privatise the service.