Thousands of civil servants, from driving test examiners to prison officers, have voted to strike over pay, pensions, job security and redundancy terms.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which is seeking a 10% pay rise for civil servants, said an average of 86.2% of its members in each organisation voted to walk out – the highest mandate for strike action in the union’s history.
Organisations where staff have voted in favour of a strike include Acas, the Cabinet Office, Crown Prosecution Service, the Health and Safety Executive, and the departments for Transport, Work and Pensions and Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, among dozens of others.
According to the BBC, around 100,000 civil servants have voted to strike. The ballot results came as the Royal College of Nursing announced the first national nurses strike in 106 years.
Public sector and civil service strikes
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members have spoken and if the government fails to listen to them, we’ll have no option than to launch a prolonged programme of industrial action reaching into every corner of public life.”
The average turnout in each organisation was 51.6% and 126 employer areas met the 50% turnout threshold required by law.
PCS is also seeking improvements to pensions, job security and a commitment that redundancy terms will not be cut. It has written to the Cabinet Office, urging it to enter into “meaningful” negotiations.
A government spokesperson said: “We regret this decision and remain in regular discussion with unions and staff.
“As the public would expect, we have plans in place to keep essential services running and minimise any potential disruption if strikes do go ahead.
“The public sector pay awards are a careful balance between delivering value for money for the taxpayer and recognising the importance of public sector workers.”
The headline range for civil service pay awards is up to 3%. Departments are able to make average pay awards up to 2%, and also have additional flexibility to pay up to a further 1% where they can demonstrate this will address specific priorities.
Details of the proposed strike will be announced on 18 November if there are no “substantial” government proposals, the PCS said.
Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride said the strike ballot result was disappointing.
Disappointed some union members have voted for industrial action. We increased pay by the maximum amount possible this year under the guidelines – the proposals put forward by the union are regrettably neither reasonable nor affordable. (1/3)
— Mel Stride (@MelJStride) November 10, 2022
Meanwhile, The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union announced that train drivers working for 12 British operators will go on strike on 26 November in an ongoing dispute over pay.
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “With inflation now well into double figures, train drivers who kept Britain moving through the pandemic are now being expected to work just as hard this year as last year but for less. Most of these drivers have not had an increase in salary since 2019.
“We want the companies – which are making huge profits – to make a proper pay offer so that our members can keep up with the cost of living.”