26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS pay cap prompts strike action

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Major industrial disruption in the UK Public Service now seems inevitable after the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union was told there would be no change to the 1 per cent cap on pay rises.

The PCS, the biggest Public Service union with 200,000 members, has confirmed it will press ahead with a ballot on strike action, saying it was a “disgrace” that the Government had decided to maintain the cap that has been in place since 2012, following a two-year freeze.

Cabinet Office officials met with union representatives in March, but the PCS said it was then provided only with an overview of plans for pay in 2018–19 and no figures.

The union has now been told the Public Service pay offer will be based on the 2015 spending review, which budgeted for a 1 per cent annual rise until 2019.

The Government had originally signalled there would be an end to the public sector pay cap and the Treasury informed pay review bodies that despite the continued need for pay discipline, the Government was willing to be flexible.

General Secretary of the PCS, Mark Serwotka said his members felt misled and betrayed because assurances were made by individual Ministers that the cap was ending and that money would be found to reward staff for their hard work.

“However, officials admitted they were using spending budgets from three years ago, despite finding money for all sorts of other issues since 2015,” Mr Serwotka said.

“It is astonishing that the Government singles out its own hardworking and committed staff for a derisory 1 per cent when they have rightly offered higher pay rises to other public sector workers.”

In recent weeks the Government has announced above-cap rises for National Health Service staff, police and prison officers, while PS employees working for the Scottish Government have accepted a 4 per cent increase.

“It is a disgrace and shows utter contempt for the vital work these people do, particularly in a climate of cuts, modernisation and Brexit,” Mr Serwotka said.

The PCS ballot on industrial action will run from 18 June to 23 July.

A poll run last year by the union to gauge support for industrial action found that 80 per cent of its members were prepared to strike if the Government refused to lift the cap.

London, 9 June 2018

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