Government urges civil servants not to vote for industrial action during pay talks

The government has warned civil servants against voting to escalate industrial action when they meet next week.

Government employees aligned to the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) stayed away from work on 1 May in a strike over pay, job cuts and privatisation.

The Department for Work and Pensions then cancelled pay talks with the PCS the following day.

The union reacted angrily to this, and is due to pass a motion concerning future action at its annual conference in Brighton on 16 May.

But the Cabinet Office, which has overall responsibility for negotiations on Civil Service pay, insisted that fresh strikes would be counter-productive to the civil servants’ cause.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said: “As the government has said repeatedly, there is absolutely no need to strike. There is an established process through which unions can raise any issues of concern.

“There is a meeting with the PCS on pay scheduled for 21 May. It does not help to resolve these issues if industrial action is taking place.”

The government also insisted that the number of workers who went on strike last week was less than half of the 280,000 claimed by PCS.

A PCS spokesman told Personnel Today: “Future strategy will be decided at the conference in Brighton. Last week’s strike was very well supported and we see no reason to think further action will not be supported.”

Union leaders are understood to believe that ramping up industrial action could force the government into action.

A PCS poll claimed that 64% of 423 candidates in last week’s local elections supported its campaign. The dispute stems from the government’s decision in July 2004 to make £20bn savings in the public sector over four years.

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