Members of the largest civil service union, PCS, have voted in favour of backing national strike action.
The union polled its 182,000 members at its national conference this week, with members in favour of opening a formal ballot in September over pay, pensions and redundancy terms.
PCS said the form of the ballot would take account of a recent consultative ballot on pay, where 97% of members were in support of a national claim, with 81% willing to take industrial action.
In March, the government announced its civil service pay guidance for the year, indicating that workers in government departments and other related bodies would receive an average pay rise of 2%, with a discretionary 1% available for exceptional cases.
PCS described the pay award as “derisory” and said it was an insult to “members who helped to keep the country running during the pandemic”.
It claimed members had already seen their living standards fall by 20% over the past decade as a result of sustained pay freezes and caps. The union believes the average member is worse off by £2,300 a year since 2011.
Civil servants are also reeling from suggestions that government cuts could see more than 90,000 government jobs slashed.
PCS’ national executive committee said that conference delegates were tired of “years of plummeting pay” and were dealing with the spiralling cost of living. Members are also seeking safeguards over redundancy terms and the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, which pays their pension.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We don’t defeat Boris Johnson by having a ballot, we beat Boris Johnson by winning a ballot, and delivering the strikes that can defeat this government.”
In order to reach a successful ballot on national strike action, the union will need to get in excess of 50% of members to vote.
A motion at the conference resolved to “mobilise and motivate our activists, increase their confidence to speak to members and intensify efforts to win over the 55% that didn’t vote”.
The union said it would work over the summer to build support for the ballot through meetings, face-to-face communications and surveys.