HMRC staff to walk out after reballot on pay

Extra 33,000 civil servants will join strikes next month, says PCS
PCS members at HMRC have voted to strike. Photo: Avpics/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

28 Feb 2023

HM Revenue and Customs officials and civil servants in different parts of government have voted to join other PCS members in striking over low pay, boosting the impact of the union's ongoing dispute.

The just-announced results of a reballot mean another 33,000 civil servants in nine government departments and bodies can now take part in strikes, PCS said.

They will join the 100,000 PCS members in 123 departments and agencies who are getting ready to take action on March 15. This brings the total number who could strike at the same time in the union to around 133,000 across 132 organisations. Fellow civil service union Prospect will also be striking on that day, after the union's announcement that tens of thousands of its members have voted to strike.

Members of PCS in the following organisations are now able to take part in the strike action: HMRC; the Care Quality Commission; Companies House; Information Commissioner’s Office; National Museum of Wales; Office of Rail & Road; UK Export Finance and the Valuation Office Agency. 

PCS balloted the nine departments after they just missed out on the required 50% turnout threshold in November. HMRC had a 47.37% turnout last year, missing out by just 750 ballots. All nine areas achieved the required turnout this time around.

PCS has promised to keep escalating strikes unless the government offers civil servants more money.

Mark Serwotka, PCS's general secretary,  said: “Today’s overwhelming result is an astonishing show of strength and intent from our members and sends a very strong message to the government that we will not stop this action until we get a fair pay rise.

“We have consistently demanded a pay rise to help our members through the cost-of-living crisis; ministers have consistently refused to put more money on the table.

“They might have hoped we’d go away if they buried their heads in the sand, but they’ve under-estimated the determination of our members, who were praised for keeping the country running during the pandemic but now taken for granted.

“As these results clearly demonstrate, our members have had enough. Unless ministers put more money on the table, our strikes will continue to escalate, beginning on March 15.”

PCS also balloted members in four organisations – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rural Payments Agency, Forestry Commission and Marine Maritime Organisation – on action short of a strike – with all voting in favour. PCS said it had identified action short of strike that could have a significantly disruptive effect in these four areas.

PCS members are this week taking strike action at the Department for Work and Pensions, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Land Registry. Next week, the union’s members at Ofsted and the Driving Standards Agency will walk out.

The union is also planning to reballot most of its members, as its six-month strike mandate from last November will expire on May 6. In a new ballot from PCS will ask members in 186 organisations to vote again for strikes in a ballot taking place from March 20.

A government spokesperson said: "Industrial action should always be a last resort, and discussions continue with civil service unions.

"We are working constructively with unions and urge them to recognise what is reasonable and affordable, as the whole country faces these cost of living challenges."

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