Civil servants join national strike over pay

Civil servants from UK government departments and agencies as well as the Welsh government have today joined a national walk-out over pay.

By Sarah Aston

15 Oct 2014

The strike comes after industrial action staged by NHS workers on Monday and ahead of the TUC's Britain Needs a Pay Rise demos in London, Glasgow and Belfast scheduled for Saturday, 18 October.

The focus of the strikes is pay: wages were frozen for two years after 2010, and pay rises have since been capped at 1%. The PCS believes that given pay constraint, pension changes and inflation, many civil servants have suffered a 20% cut in their real incomes under the coalition.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which has 270,000 members, has claimed that three quarters of its members have taken part in today’s action.

PCS member Mark Benjamin, who has worked for HM Revenues and Customs for 30 years, joined a picket line outside Parliament today.

He told CSW that the strike is part of the on-going struggle of civil servants to get “a fair pay rise”.

He said: “Myself and my colleagues, we’re struggling with bills,” adding that “the cost of living is so great today [for] petrol, rents, food.”

Richard Simcox, PCS spokesman, said that as a result if the pay freeze, the 1% pay cap and the increasing pension contributions civil servants are having to make, the average civil servants will see a 20% cut in their living standards.

“Our strike today is to say: ‘That is not good enough!’,” he said. “The government need to sit down and talk to us to alleviate the problems that those kinds of cuts are having.”

A Cabinet Office Spokesperson said: “We want to thank the overwhelming majority of civil servants who did not vote for today’s action and have reported for work as usual.

“Well-rehearsed contingency plans are ensuring that nearly all key public services are being delivered as usual, and all Jobcentres opened this morning. 

“As part of our long-term economic plan, this government is taking tough decisions to address the budget deficit we inherited after the 2010 general election.

“One was to introduce pay restraint in the public sector, while protecting the lowest paid.

“Pay restraint protects public sector jobs, supports high-quality public services and helps keep the UK’s finances back on track.”

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