Graduates on the civil service Fast Stream have shown support for a strike over pay.
According to the FDA union, members of the Whitehall graduate scheme are struggling to make ends meet, due to a combination of a “poor” deal and the rising cost of living.
FDA national officer for the Fast Stream, Lauren Crowley, said the union has been pressing for the scheme’s “long-term structural pay issues to be addressed through a pay business case submitted this year, but the employer has refused to consider this”.
Earlier this year FDA members in the Fast Stream rejected a 3% pay increase.
In a recent vote, which had a 67% turnout, 81% of its members on the scheme said they would support industrial action. An official ballot for strike action will close in mid-January.
Civil servants strike
The support comes as hundreds of civil servants, including staff in the Border Force, Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, prepare to take strike action before Christmas.
Crowley said: “We have now reached the conclusion that we have exhausted opportunities to resolve this through negotiation.
“Fast Streamers carry out vital roles in ensuring the smooth functioning of government and delivery of public services, yet are so poorly paid they are skipping meals and relying on family just to get by. This cannot go on.”
A survey the union ran earlier this year found one in nine people on the Fast Stream had a second job; one in three had to live with family; and more than half had to rely on financial support from family to get by.
The majority of respondents said pay had a negative impact on their wellbeing, most of whom said they had considered leaving the scheme as a result.
“The year one Fast Stream salary has not changed in five years,” said Crowley. “Since 2010, the Fast Stream starting salary has gone from £27,000 to £28,000 – a rise of only 3.7% in 12 years. By contrast, in the same period the minimum pay for Cabinet Office HEOs (higher executive officers) has gone up by 15.6% nationally and 15.9% in London.”
A government spokesperson said: “We value the work of fast streamers in the civil service and we are reviewing their pay terms as we have previously committed to. This work is ongoing.
“Industrial action should always be a last resort, and we urge the unions to recognise what is reasonable and affordable as the whole country faces these cost of living challenges as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
“Discussions will continue, but we can provide reassurance that we have comprehensive plans in place to keep essential services running and to minimise disruption if strikes do go ahead.”