Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working across the Civil Service and wider public sector have begun voting on strike action as part of an ongoing dispute on job cuts, low pay and privatisation.
The ballot, which could involve up to 270,000 members working in more than 200 different government departments and agencies, follows two one-day national Civil Service strikes earlier this year.
The vote could lead to strike action hitting courts, tax offices, job centres and prisons.
Public sector unions have also been talking about co-ordinated strike action in protest over prime minister’s Gordon Brown decision to limit pay increases to 2%.
The PCS said its decision to escalate its campaign comes against a backdrop of compulsory redundancies, deteriorating services and a below-inflation pay offer.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “People delivering the essential services that we all rely on have grown increasingly angry as the services they deliver suffer due to job cuts and office closures.
“This anger has only been fuelled by the government’s desire to cut wages in real terms with below-inflation pay offers.”
The result of the ballot is expected to be announced on 23 October.