Civil servants to join public sector strike for higher wages

BRITAIN-STRIKE-INDUSTRYFollowing the results of a consultative ballot of all PCS members across the civil service, the National Executive Committee has confirmed that we will be joining other unions to take coordinated strike action on Thursday 10 July.

In the ballot, which closed on 30 June, 73.7% of those who took part voted ‘YES’ to endorse the national campaign strategy and the 10 July strike date. The national campaign strategy was drawn up following last year’s consultation meetings. It involves coordinated action with other unions, national and targeted action aimed at exerting sustained pressure on the employer, and political campaigning to put pressure on politicians to support our aims.

The first step in this campaign is the coordinated action on 10 July. Alongside PCS members in the civil service and non-departmental public bodies, the National Union of Teachers and school support staff and local government workers in the UNISON, UNITE and GMB unions will also be taking part.

Our General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, wrote a piece for the Guardian on why the strike is a necessity:

Is it any wonder public sector workers are angry? They have seen executive pay in the private sector increase by 145% during the recession, while their wages have been frozen and capped.

At the same time, the cost of living continues to soar – with food, transport and fuel bills all far outstripping salary increases – while government ministers laud an “economic recovery”. Low-paid civil servants struggling to make ends meet are rightly asking, whose recovery is it?

To find out, we set up a pay calculator on our website for people to punch in their details and see what their standard of living would be like if their earnings had kept pace with inflation over the last few years.

The results are shocking. For many people the effect of the government’s pay and pension policies has meant a cut of 20% over the course of the pay freeze and cap. That is not just foregoing holidays with the kids, we are talking about people having to make daily choices about what they can afford to eat.

Responses to the civil service’s official staff surveys have shown levels of satisfaction over pay have declined every year under this government – and yet nothing is done to address that. This is why we have lost faith in the survey process, now being used to justify new draconian performance systems as another crude tool to facilitate job cuts.

So we obviously welcome this united campaign over pay and we will be joining the strike on 10 July alongside hundreds of thousands of local government workers and teachers.

We led the call for joint union action over pensions and were among the first group out on strike on 30 June 2011 – the action that lit a fuse that led to the explosion of two million public servants striking together on 30 November of that year.

But, for us, these disputes have always been about the same thing. Whether it is cuts to pay, people’s jobs, their offices, their pensions or their redundancy entitlement, they flow from the same source: the coalition government’s political decision after the election to cut public spending.

All the political parties, including Labour, repeat the lie that “there’s less money around”. But the passports crisis in recent weeks has shown what happens when jobs are cut and offices are closed for no reason other than to meet arbitrary spending targets in the name of austerity.

We have asked repeatedly for negotiations over pay but have so far been refused any meaningful discussions. Local managers tell us their hands are tied while the Cabinet Office claims civil service departments have “flexibility”. It’s not flexibility if you’re boxed in so tight you can’t move.

So in the absence of any measure of goodwill from senior officials and ministers, we are being forced to strike for decent pay rises for hardworking and dedicated public servants who are consistently praised for their hard work and dedication by these same senior officials and ministers.

As the saying goes, good manners cost nothing – and they certainly don’t put food on the table or pay the gas bill. What civil servants need is a pay rise.

Find out more about the national campaign on our dedicated campaign page.



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