TORY Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden “bottled it” and dodged striking civil servants picketing outside of Glasgow’s UK Government offices.

The Tory MP, who replaced Dominic Raab after he resigned following a bullying scandal, was due to visit the HMRC and Cabinet Office building in the Broomielaw on Friday morning.

Earlier, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sparked a row after initially refusing to speak to the Scottish press at the Scottish Tory conference, just along the river from the site of the PCS strike.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory conference LIVE: Sunak blocks media access

And, after journalists were in uproar about the bid to stop them from asking questions to the PM following the resignation of BBC chairman Richard Sharp, Dowden was a no-show at the PCS picket line.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said Dowden was "required to remain in London" for a series of meetings, so did not travel to Glasgow this afternoon. 

It comes as 133,000 PCS members in 132 government departments walk out on Friday in the union’s third national stoppage since the dispute flared.

PCS members in Glasgow patiently waited for the Deputy PM to arrive on Friday afternoon, but around 1pm, one striking worker told The National: “He’s bottled it.”

One union organiser told the crowd of gathered workers that Dowden had decided “not to face” civil servants.

John Jamieson, a member of the PCS National Executive Committe (NEC), told The National: “We were hoping that we could put our case to him because the civil service has been destroyed, even prior to the cost of living crisis.

“The civil service is something like 20 per cent down on the cost of living compared to the 2008 wages that we had.

“We’ve had three consecutive zero per cent pay rises, if you can call zero per cent a pay rise, and the cost of living is going up all the time.”

PCS are demanding a 10% pay rise, after the UK Government offered 4.5 per cent.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak dubs Scottish Parliament a 'devolved assembly'

“Now with inflation spiralling due to decisions made by this Westminster government, we’re in even further danger in terms of our members,” Jamieson added.

“45% of our members are using credit cards for energy and for food, a huge percentage, something like 10% of our members use foodbanks, that’s outrageous.”

Oliver Robertson, Cabinet Office representative for PCS, said that he wasn’t surprised Dowden decided not to appear.

“Sometimes ministers announce they’re visiting and it doesn’t happen - hopefully, they’re busy running the country.

“I was also shocked it was announced they were visiting when PCS were on strike, and it would mean them crossing the picket line.

“It’s disappointing because I would like for any minister to meet with PCS so we can discuss the issues we’re in dispute about and ways of working, as PCS workers are at the coal face in many of the systems and can suggest different ways to do things.”

As well as pay, Robertson said PCS workers feel they are paying too much into their pension pots and want a 2% reduction, as well as job security from looming threats of redundancy as ministers vow to slash the number of civil servants across the country.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory MSPs launch 'think tank of sorts' at conference

“What we want is this government to negotiate and actively engage instead of using rhetoric, talk to our union and then negotiations can be had,” Robertson added.

Asked if the UK Government were not engaging with unions at all, he replied: “No not at the moment, no, there’s been no negotiations.

“Some of the words that have been bandied about are ‘actively engaging’ but there’s two sides to every story.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson told The National: "He [Doweden] chaired some meetings on the security front, of which we can't go into details for obvious reasons.

"The Deputy Prime Minister was required to remain in London."