Delegates at this year’s Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) national conference yesterday voted overwhelmingly for a strike ballot of 280,000 members working across the civil service over the government’s pay-cutting policy.
The next few weeks will see the union preparing to ballot members across 200 government departments and related agencies over a programme of rolling industrial action including a national one day civil service strike.
Delegates also reaffirmed a commitment to co-ordinate industrial action with other public sector unions over pay following last month’s one day stoppage.
This saw 100,000 PCS members across ten government departments and agencies join teachers and lecturers in a walkout over pay.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘At a time when the Labour government is at its least popular they are further alienating their own workforce with its policy of pay freezes and pay cuts in real terms.
‘Pay in the civil service is amongst the lowest in the public sector with a quarter earning less than £16,000 and thousands on the minimum wage.
‘It is a disgrace that you have essential workers such as coastguards being paid just above the minimum wage and 40% of Jobcentre staff receiving no pay rise at all this year.
‘By pursuing its policy of below-inflation pay, the government is embedding a culture of poverty pay in civil and public services as it hides behind its discredited argument that public sector pay fuels inflation.
‘The resolve of our members is clear as is our commitment to work with other public sector unions who are facing the same attacks on pay.
‘The government needs to think again to avoid growing anger by valuing its workforce with fair pay.’
l College lecturers in London will take strike action on Monday 9 June unless their employers improve a pay offer of 2.5% for 2008-09, the University and College Union (UCU) announced yesterday.
Meanwhile, at the UCU national Congress in Manchester next week (28-30 May), delegates will consider a motion which ‘condemns attempts by the government to impose pay limits on the public sector’.
The motion if passed commits the union to ‘joint campaigning with other public sector unions to resist a public sector pay freeze or pay limits.’
The lecturers are seeking a 6% pay increase to compensate for a below-inflation settlement last year and to bridge a pay gap with school teachers who earn on average 6% more.
UCU members in England were on strike on 24 April, as were school teachers and civil servants.
Along with five other unions representing staff in further education colleges, UCU rejected a 2.5% offer by employers on 1st May. Unions are set to meet employers again on Thursday 5 June.
UCU will organise lunchtime protests in colleges throughout England on Wednesday 4 June, ahead of the pay talks.
The actions are being organised jointly with other college staff unions: UNISON, Unite, GMB and ATL.
The strike in London on Monday 9 June coincides with a national rally, ‘Speak up for public services’ organised by the TUC.