Public sector faces triple threat of industrial action over salaries

The threat of industrial conflict is hanging heavily over the public sector this week as the Treasury refuses to budge from its 2% limit on pay rises.

Local authorities, the Ministry of Defence, the Prison Service and the Highways Agency are just some of the bodies at risk of being hit by strikes.

Unions have spoken of their intention to step up their fight for better pay, ­conditions, pensions and job security across the public sector:

  • The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has announced a work-to-rule day across the Civil Service on Friday 23 February, when only contracted hours will be worked by union members.
  • Professionals’ union Prospect opened ballots on industrial action over pay claims for its members in many government departments.
  • Public sector unions Unison and GMB revealed plans to fight for a 5% pay rise from local authorities.

Up to 200,000 civil servants took part in a strike on 31 January over the government’s Gershon Review efficiency drive since 2004.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Civil service management, along with the government, cannot continue to bury its head in the sand, hoping the problems of pay, deteriorating services and privatisation will simply go away.”

Meanwhile, Prospect’s civil service sector executive issued a warning after reviewing potential industrial disputes affecting professionals in eight departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies. The union’s assistant general-secretary, Dai Hudd, said: “The chancellor’s arbitrary ceiling is raising tensions right across the service.”

Unison and the GMB have presented a claim to councils for a 5% rise or £1,000 – whichever is greater. They also want a one-day increase in annual leave for all employees, and a reduction of the standard working week to 35 hours without loss of pay.

Jan Parkinson, managing director of Local Government Employers, told Personnel Today that councils would be “very fortunate” to get a deal at 2%.

Comments are closed.