Union kicks off consultation on industrial action over Whitehall pay cap
PCS launches nationwide ballot on sentiment and readiness for industrial action
Civil servants who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union are being asked to show their willingness to strike or take other industrial action over the government’s ongoing pay cap in a ballot that opens today.
PCS, which has 160,000 public sector members and is the civil service’s largest union, is asking all card-carriers subject to the cap to give their views in the exercise, timed to report ahead of chancellor Philip Hammond’s November 22 Budget.
Since the government lost its majority in June’s snap general election, ministers have come under increased pressure to ease the 1% pay cap, which came into effect in 2012, after a two-year pay freeze introduced by then-prime minister David Cameron.
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PCS said civil service pay had fallen by between £2,000 and £3,500 in real terms between 2010 and 2016 because of its failure to keep pace with inflation, and has dismissed Westminster’s latest partial lifting of the bar announced last month, in which prison officers get an average 1.7% increase and police a 2% increase, half of which is a one-off bonus.
Those offers came on the heels of earlier cap-busting agreements for Department for Work and Pensions staff and surveyors at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, both of which involved 1%-plus deals in return for more flexible working.
PCS is calling for an across-the-board 5% rise for all public-sector workers and dismissed the earlier deals as “divide and rule offers” that sought to pit some public sector workers against others.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said the pay cap was “counterproductive, unjust and unnecessary” and that the government had no mandate to continue with it.
“Civil servants keep this country running, yet they have seen cuts to their pay, pensions and redundancy terms as a result of the government’s austerity policies,” he said.
“It is only right that our members have their say and send the government and devolved administrations of this land a clear message over pay.
“We are clear, pay misery for public servants must end and the government must restore public sector pay and invest in public services to levels that allow working people to live with the dignity and security they deserve.”
The PCS ballot runs until November 6, and covers staff working in sectors covered by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.
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