26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Union moves closer to strike over pay

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The United Kingdom Public Service’s biggest union has declared itself “formally in dispute” with the Government over its 2022-23 pay proposals for officials and is targeting a ballot on strike action later in the year aimed at securing a 10 per cent pay rise.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union’s announcement comes one month after the Cabinet Office set out its pay remit guidance for the current financial year, which proposed that most Departmental officials would be in line for a two per cent annual rise with the potential for an extra one per cent in exceptional cases.

The Consumer Price Index rose by seven per cent in the year to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Bank of England has said that it expects inflation to hit eight per cent later this year.

The PCS’s decision to challenge the pay guidance sets the stage for months of wrangling with Ministers ahead of a strike ballot – seemingly timed to coincide with the party-conference season.

Meanwhile, efforts by Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg to end working from home in the Public Service, which has included leaving notes on empty desks, have not been backed by other Ministers.

Minister for Culture, Nadine Dorries (pictured) accused Mr Rees-Mogg of taking a “Dickensian” approach to the issue.

The Cabinet is also said to have backed away from the idea of stripping London weighting from the salaries of people who are still not commuting into capital offices.

Mr Rees-Mogg has written to Cabinet Ministers calling on them to issue a clear message to staff about a “rapid return to the office” and has been leaving notes in empty Whitehall workspaces with the message: “I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.”

While Prime Minister, Boris Johnson supports Mr Rees-Mogg’s actions, the Guardian newspaper reported that the country’s most senior Public Servant, Simon Case, had privately warned Mr Johnson against forcing officials back to the office.

The newspaper said at least four Ministers were also understood to have voiced concerns about the Government’s rhetoric on the matter.

London, 29 April 2022

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