EXCL: Tens of thousands more civil servants to vote on strikes later this month

Prospect union could join PCS strikes, with UKHSA, DSTL and Met Office among employers in formal ballot
A 2015 walkout in Exeter over a pay freeze at the Met Office in Exeter. Photo: Paul Glendell/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

17 Jan 2023

Tens of thousands of more civil servants could soon join the wave of civil service strikes, as Prospect prepares to ballot members over pay.

The union, which represents civil service professionals such as engineers and scientists, will launch a formal strike ballot of more than 40 civil service employers later this month.

Prospect members backed industrial in an indicative ballot last month, with 93% of members who voted saying they were ready to take industrial action. The formal ballot will ask the civil servants if they want to walk out or take action short of strike – which can include working to rule and overtime bans.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, told CSW: “Following recent talks with the government it is clear that there is no more money for 2022-23 and it is unlikely that will change significantly for the next pay year.

"It is also clear that civil servants remain at the back of the queue for pay.”

Prospect will ballot members in organisations including: the UK Health Security Agency; Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; Health and Safety Executive, UK Research and Innovation, Met Office; and Trinity House.

“Our members are dedicated specialists, providing expert support across government and to the public as a whole,” Clancy said.

“Dedication, however, will not pay the bills so there is no alternative but to continue with our formal ballot for industrial action. As a union our door is always open to meaningful talks but that means there has to be more money on the table.”

Fellow civil service union PCS began strike action last month and has announced a one-day strike of more than 100 government organisations on February 1. And the FDA today announced its Fast Stream members had voted to strike.

All three unions have called for the government to make an improved pay offer for civil servants, but also have concerns over pensions, redundancy terms and job security. 

A government spokesperson said: "The government is doing all it can to mitigate the impact of strikes, but union bosses should be reasonable, stay around the negotiating table and call off damaging strikes.

“Pay must be affordable and fair, which is why we accepted the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies to pay our valued public servants more. Inflation-matching pay increases for all public sector workers would cost everyone more long term – worsening debt, fuelling inflation, and costing every household an extra £1,000.”

The £1,000-per-household figure is the same one quoted by Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin last month, and appears to be the total cost of an 11% pay rise for all staff across all areas of public service.

Most civil servants' pay is not subject to review by an independent pay body. The Senior Salaries Review Body makes recommendations on senior civil servants' pay, steered by input from the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

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