The PCS union has opened a fresh strike ballot to enable industrial action to continue beyond May, as it announced more walkouts over pay and conditions.
Voting opened yesterday for PCS members across 186 civil and public service employers, on whether to extend the union’s strike mandate for a further six months. Its current mandate, which began in November following an autumn ballot, expires on 6 May.
Despite strikes taking place in a number of high-profile areas of the civil service including HM Passport Office, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Border Force and jobcentres across the UK, there has been little progress on negotiating a fresh pay deal for civil servants.
PCS is demanding a 10% pay rise for its members for 2022-23, along with agreements on pensions, job security and redundancy terms. However, ministers have so far refused to negotiate the standing 2-3% pay offer – which unions did not agree to.
PCS said earlier this week that the government had failed to offer any “meaningful talks” over civil service pay, even as ministers reached a deal with NHS workers. Another civil service union, Prospect, said the civil service was being treated as the “poor relation” of other parts of the public sector.
It also accused ministers of treating civil servants unfairly compared to other sectors.
Postal ballots were sent out as the union announced more walkouts at National Highways and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
At DVSA, the union is extending the rolling programme of strikes that has been running this month into April. All of its members at three DVSA branches – Swansea Ellipse, Newcastle Lightbox and Newcastle Tyneside House – will down tools for the two days either side of the Easter Bank Holiday, between 5 and 12 April. Rolling regional action will then take place between 17 and 28 April.
More than 1,500 driving instructions and administrative staff will take part in the latest wave of action, the union said. The disruption will pile on pressure as the agency deals with an “ever-increasing backlogs of driving tests”, with 26-week waits at some test centres, PCS said.
Civil servants working at National Highways’ National Traffic Operations Centre in Quinton will meanwhile strike from 3 to 7 April. The West Midlands site is the major control centre for National Highways and coordinates with government and emergency services during major incidents.
PCS members at Quinton customer contact centre, who handle calls and other contact from the public, will join the action.
The ballot for continued strike action will run until 9 May across 186 employers.
The union is urging members to back further action and send a “clear message to the government”.
"In our action so far, our members and reps have turned out in their thousands, delivering a hugely successful campaign of strategic strike action and two days of national walkouts, and we will need them to show that energy, enthusiasm and dedication to deliver a huge yes vote for more action across the civil service and public sector,” it said in an announcement.
“Our strategy has enabled us to call more industrial action than at any other time in our union’s history. It is also the most hard-hitting action we have ever called.”
PCS members in HM Revenue and Customs are not being balloted in this round as they have a mandate to strike until late August. The tax agency was reballoted in February after falling just shy of the 50% voting threshold needed to take action in the autumn vote.