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Courts, museums and driving test centres hit by 24-hour strike

THOUSANDS of Scottish public sector workers have joined a UK-wide walkout as they demand an increase in pay.

Court services were reduced and museums and driving centres closed as members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union protested over what it has calculated as a 20 per cent cut in earnings through a pay freeze and cap in recent years.

Civil servants, council staff and cleaners stood on picket lines across Scotland, and rallies were held in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The PCS in Scotland said the 24-hour strike had enjoyed large support as people called on ministers to "break with the imposed UK austerity pay cap" in the run-up to the independence referendum.

The union said there was only one courtroom in operation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court - the best strike turnout since 2011 -while Portree and Dingwall courts were closed completely.

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) said an estimated 26 per cent of its staff were taking part in the industrial action.

PCS spokeswoman Joy Dunn said: "It's been very, very positive from our point of view. We've had a fantastic response from our members in Scotland."

The action follows a national PCS ballot which gained 73.7 per cent support. The union represents 28,000 workers in Scotland.

The National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum in Edinburgh were also shut due to the action.

Members of the PCS national executive committee addressed members at rallies at the Mound precinct in Edinburgh and on Glasgow's Buchanan Street.

The PCS said 97 per cent of members working for the employment tribunals service in Glasgow were on strike and Peterhead and Fraserburgh driving centres were shut.

Scottish secretary Lynn Hen-derson said: "John Swinney (the Scottish Finance Secretary) doesn't need to wait for the referendum to break away from (Chancellor) George Osborne and the pay policy of the Tories.

"At any point in the last seven years he could have rejected a below inflation pay cap and accepted the arguments of PCS that investment in public services, in public sector jobs, in fair pay for civil servants that would help Scotland's economy and help the way out of recession," she added.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "As a result of the UK Government's austerity measures, the Scottish Government's discretionary budget is being reduced in real terms by 10.7% over five years.

"We have consistently rejected the Chancellor's approach to public finances and remain concerned about the impact of spending cuts on public services, household budgets and economic recovery."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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