The Prospect union has launched a strike ballot that could see tens of thousands more civil servants staging walkouts over pay.
Over the next month, members will vote on whether to strike or take action short of a strike, after a series of unsuccessful talks in which ministers have refused to negotiate further on this year’s pay offer of 2-3%.
As well as a better settlement this year, Prospect is seeking assurances of a fair pay deal for its members for 2023-34 – which it says will necessitate a complete overhaul of the pay-remit process.
Its members – who work in organisations including the Met Office, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Health and Safety Executive, the Animal and Plant Health Agency Natural England and UK Research and Innovation – are also concerned about job security and proposals to slash redundancy payouts.
The ballot, which opens today and closes on 24 February, comes after 93% of Prospect members who voted in a recent indicative ballot said they were ready to take industrial action.
Announcing the ballot, Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said members would not be voting "lightly" but "have been left with no choice to protect their living standards and our public services".
“Ministers have given no indication they will put more money on the table and continue to threaten redundancy terms and job cuts," he said.
“With bills still rocketing and pressure on the civil service and its agencies’ workload increasing every day, our only option is to ballot on industrial action.”
Speaking to CSW, Clancy said it was "completely unacceptable" that ministers considered this year's pay offer closed, when unions have not agreed to it, and have refused to put forward any more money to address officials' concerns.
“Our members have got great commitments to public service, and some of the work they do is obviously absolutely fascinating, it's got a moral purpose. But moral purpose and fascinating work doesn't pay the mortgage,” he said. “It doesn’t feed the kids, doesn't allow people to have a reasonable lifestyle.”