Brexit chaos gives civil servants ‘leverage on pay’ says union chief
Whitehall’s biggest union urges members to capitalise on government disarray in pending strike ballot
PCS members protest outside HM Treasury in 2017 Credit: PA
Civil servants can use the government’s ongoing Brexit turmoil to leverage a proper cost-of-living pay rise out of ministers, the leader of Whitehall’s biggest union has said.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that after almost a decade of frozen pay or sub-inflationary rises, the government’s current crisis put key workers in a strengthened bargaining position.
Ahead of the opening of a six-week ballot on strike action, aimed at delivering a 2019-20 pay deal that compensates for years of restraint, Serwotka said members in central government departments were in a position to address a decade when their pay had fallen below inflation by more than 15%.
- HMRC staff vote to strike over office closure
- PCS targets strike action in May over civil service pay
- Cabinet Office accused of ‘destroying trust’ over pay
Serwotka also claimed that John Manzoni had reiterated that funding for civil service pay this year will remain capped at 1%, despite other parts of the public sector receiving significantly better deals than civil servants had been offered over the past 12 months.
“Last year, when other parts of the public sector broke through the pay cap, the government secretly agreed to limit our pay increases to 1-1.5%,” Serwotka said in the latest edition of PCS People.
“To make matters worse, in January the head of the UK civil service offered a disgraceful 1% increase in exchange for terms and conditions.
“That’s why we will be holding an industrial action ballot. We need to force this shambolic government to negotiate on our pay claim.
“With the complexities of Brexit looming large over every government department, you’re needed now more than ever. With a 'yes' vote in the ballot we will hold maximum leverage over a government in total disarray.”
Serwotka conceded that while 86% of votes cast in 2018’s ballot had been in favour of strike action, the union had failed to reach the crucial 50% turnout threshold that would have made action legal.
He said the 2019 ballot, which runs from Monday to 29 April, would be focused on the core UK civil servants to reach the threshold that would make a strike legitimate.
“If we are to beat the threshold, we need to include areas that can deliver the strongest possible vote,” he said.
“Across the union we’re running major recruitment exercises, and we’ve invested in digital technology to assist in organising.”
In January the union suggested that it was minded to seek an 8-10% rise for civil servants and would target strike action in May.
National Audit Office recognises progress but says ‘significant’ time and budget challenges...
Consolidated award will be worth 11% for some staff at Brexit department
Civil service’s biggest union also calls on Sajid Javid to invest in staff boosts for revenue-...
Move follows agency-wide anger over working conditions and overtime payments
One in four workers in the UK has financial worries. In this article, Elaine Jefferys, Money...
PA Consulting offers a four-point plan to delivering organisational transformation
Negotiations are nearly over, but the real challenge of the spending review is just beginning....
Employers often gauge how employees feel about the company — its culture, benefits and employee...