Civil servants back union's strike-pause plan

Some 90% of PCS members who voted in its consultative ballot on pay agreed with the national strategy
PCS rally in April during a day of national strikes. Photo: Maureen McLean/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

01 Sep 2023

Members of PCS, the civil service’s biggest union, have voted to back the organisation’s strategy of pausing strikes to negotiate pay before deciding whether to take more industrial action.

Some 90% of members who voted agreed with the union’s plan on how to continue the campaign, results announced today reveal.

The union’s online, consultative ballot ran from 3-31 August and asked members to agree to the strategy, which consists of: pausing industrial action; entering pay talks with individual departments and government-wide dialogue with the Cabinet Office; and then assessing whether more action is needed once talks conclude.

Around one in 10 members rejected the union’s strategy in the ballot, which had a 47% turnout.

The union said the results “will send a strong message to the government and employers that while the concessions we have won are significant, they are not enough and our campaign continues”.

PCS’s national executive committee will meet next week to discuss the ballot result, analyse the outcomes of pay talks with individual employers, consider the progress made in discussions with the Cabinet Office, and decide on the next steps in the campaign.

It said the outcomes of pay talks so far have been a mixed picture, with some officials getting “significant” increases and others offered “insufficient” rises.

The union has criticised pay offers from HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Transport, but the Home Office’s deal – where all officials will get a minimum 4.5% pay rise – got the union’s seal of approval.

PCS suspended strike action earlier this summer after months of industrial action across its membership since when the Cabinet Office offered a one-off £1,500 cost-of-living payment in addition to an average 4.5-5% pay rise for 2023-24. The government also committed to make no changes to redundancy terms before the next general election.

“The government concessions are significant, and put welcome money in members' pockets, but they are not enough and the campaign continues,” PCS said.

The union has live mandates for future strikes in various government organisations until November. It has threatened strikes for any government body that fails to offer the £1,500 payment. So far these threats have led to the British Museum and the Care Quality Commission changing decisions not to give employees the lump-sum payment. The union is also currently balloting National Highways members on taking industrial action over the same issue.

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