Public and Commercial Services Union
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Civil servants in strike ballot over pay

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced recently, that it would be balloting 270,000 members across civil and public services on a programme of national industrial action over the government's policy to cap public sector pay to below inflation.

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Anger has grown over the government’s policy which is disproportionately hitting some of the lowest paid in the public sector and has already led to a number of pay strikes by coastguards, immigration officers, passport staff, driving examiners and jobcentre staff.

This year has also seen PCS members co-ordinating their industrial action over pay with other public sector unions, including NUT, UCU and Unison.

In the strike ballot running from 24 September to 17 October, members will be asked to back plans for a national civil service wide strike followed by a rolling programme of targeted industrial action that will extend into the new year.

The union will also step up its work with other unions in co-ordinating campaigning and industrial action where appropriate.

With a quarter of the civil service earning less than £16,500 and thousands earning just above the minimum wage, the government’s policy of capping public sector pay has hit some of the lowest paid in the public sector the hardest and led to pay cuts and pay freezes.

Forty percent of staff in the Department for Work and Pensions, which includes Jobcentres will have no pay rise whatsoever this year, 30% of staff in the Identity and Passport Service are in the same situation, whilst coastguard watch assistants received a special pay rise to keep their pay above the minimum wage.

Pay in the civil service is worse than other parts of the public sector because ‘progression’ (moving from the minimum to the maximum of the pay range) is included in the government’s pay cap. Hence there is less money available to fund basic pay awards.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said:

“The government says it is on the side of hard pressed families, yet compound the financial misery for hundreds of thousands of hard working people by pursuing an unjust pay policy.

The government is out of touch with the people who keep this country running and who deliver the everyday things we take for granted

 

The government is out of touch with the people who keep this country running and who deliver the everyday things we take for granted. Our members have grown increasingly frustrated by the government peddling the myth that they are the causes of inflation when they see their food, fuel and housing costs soar.

“Faced with pay cuts, pay freezes and increasing financial hardship, civil and public servants will not tolerate the government’s approach to pay which is disproportionately hitting some of the lowest paid in the economy.

“There is still a window of opportunity though, for the government to recognise the hardship it is causing, by reviewing its unjust and unfair policy of below inflation pay.”

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