PCS announces strike ballot of 160,000 officials over pay

Union general secretary Fran Heathcote says government has refused to commit to inflation-proof pay rises for 2024-25
PCS held a series of strikes last year. Photo: PA/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

07 Mar 2024

The civil service's biggest union has announced it will launch a national strike ballot of 160,000 civil servants and other public service officials in 171 government departments and public bodies.

PCS said it has decided to hold the ballot after the government failed to meet its demands over pay, pensions justice and job protection.

Last month, PCS gave the Cabinet Office an ultimatum, setting a deadline of 5 March for ministers to make an acceptable offer or face a dispute and potential strike action. The union's demands include ⁠a cost-of-living rise, with an inflation-proofed increase plus pay restoration, and ⁠pay equality across departments.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: "We warned the government that our national campaign would continue if our demands were not met.

“We won pay rises last year of up to 5% for all our members, plus a one-off cost-of-living payment of £1,500. We told ministers we expected at least inflation-proof pay rises this year, but so far they have refused to commit to even that.

“Our members showed last year they were prepared to take sustained strike action – the government can expect more of the same this year if they don’t meet our demands and treat our hard-working members with the respect they deserve.”

The ballot will run from March 18 to May 13 and will include all of PCS's members working across the UK in the civil service and its related areas, except for those working in devolved organisations in Scotland. The Scottish Government agreed a two-year settlement on pay and jobs last year. 

PCS is also demanding that the government offer civil servants:⁠

  • a living wage of £15 per hour;
  • London weighting of a minimum £5,000 per year;
  • a minimum of 35 days annual leave; and
  • a significant shortening of the working week with no loss of pay.

John Glen, the minister for the Cabinet Office, has already rejected the request for a shorter working week for civil servants with the same pay. He said “the emerging evidence for a four-day working week is slim at best”.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "It would be premature to ballot members on industrial action while ongoing discussions on the civil service pay remit guidance take place. 

"To ensure that these talks are productive, we encourage unions to continue to engage with officials as part of the usual process. This year's pay remit guidance will be published in due course and we will continue dialogue with unions."

The following employers are included in the ballot (search below)


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