PCS members to begin new industrial action in Defra and agencies

Union announces that members in the Forestry Commission England, Marine Management Organisation, and Rural Payments Agency will join core Defra staff in action short of strike from 11 April
Source: Alamy

By Suzannah Brecknell

27 Mar 2023

More than 3,000 PCS members in Defra and three of its agencies will take action short of a strike from 11 April, the union has announced. 

The action, part of the union’s long-running dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security, could see staff in the Forestry Commission England, the Marine Management Organisation, the Rural Payments Agency and Defra itself refusing to work overtime or carry out tasks that would usually be covered by another grade.  

The union is demanding a 10% pay rise for its members for 2022-23, along with agreements on pensions, job security and redundancy terms. However, ministers have so far refused to negotiate the standing 2-3% pay offer – which unions did not agree to.  

PCS said earlier this month that the government had failed to offer any “meaningful talks” over civil service pay, even as ministers reached a deal with NHS workers. Another civil service union, Prospect, said the civil service was being treated as the “poor relation” of other parts of the public sector. 

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This action further ratchets up the pressure on ministers to settle our dispute. Our members are showing no sign of backing down. They are standing up for themselves because they are fed up with being taken for granted.  

“They demand the government holds meaningful talks with us and put some money on the table to give them a decent pay rise.”  

A Defra spokesperson said:  “We value greatly the work of our people, and regret the decision to take action. 

 “We are doing everything possible to minimise the impacts and we will continue to protect the environment at all times.” 

PCS has also opened a fresh strike ballot for members in 186 organisations, as its six-month strike mandate from last November will expire on May 6.  

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