26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Departments to lead industrial assault

Start the conversation

United Kingdom Public Servants in three Whitehall Departments are to take strike action for a month from mid-December, as the first step in an escalating campaign, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced.

General Secretary of the PCS, Mark Serwotka said the initial action in the Home Office, Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would involve “low thousands” of the 100,000 members who backed strike action in a recent ballot.

However, he said the strikes would be tailored to cause maximum disruption across public services, including passport and border checks, driving tests and farm payments, throughout the Christmas period.

“I hope that people can travel at Christmas without disruption, but that’s down to [Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak and [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Jeremy Hunt,” Mr Serwotka said.

Public Servants represented by the PCS have been offered a two per cent pay rise.

Mr Serwotka said many were in such reduced circumstances they were claiming benefits and even resorting to food banks.

“Some of the staff involved will take short bursts of action, while others will stay off work for the entire month-long period,” the General Secretary said.

He said the PCS would step up its action over the coming months unless the Government acceded to its members’ demands for a 10 per cent pay rise, a reversal of cuts to redundancy pay, and an agreement on job security.

“We have a mandate here for six months of industrial action — that’s what the law allows,” Mr Serwotka said.

“Our proposals are that this will be an escalating action.”

With teachers currently balloting over strike action and nurses already having backed strikes, Mr Serwotka said there was a growing likelihood of coordinated action in the New Year across different sectors.

“I think you’ll see escalation within the Civil Service, but you will also see escalation on a much broader basis, unless something changes,” he said.

A Government spokesperson said the PCS’s decision was to be regretted.

“We greatly value the work of Civil Servants across the country, but the union’s demands would cost an unaffordable £2.4 billion ($A4.2 billion) at a time when our focus must be on bringing down inflation to ease the pressure on households across the country,” the spokesperson said.

London, 20 November 2022

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.