Half of public sector workers ‘prepared to strike’

Public sector employers must be allowed to hire agency temps to provide emergency cover for striking workers, a business group has warned as a new survey reveals industrial action could follow the imminent cuts.

Half of the public sector employees polled by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) admitted that they would “do what is necessary to protect their jobs” and would consider strike action in the face of pay cuts or changes to their pensions.

However, the study of 2,000 UK private and state workers, published ahead of Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, found that almost half said they were more concerned about the damage caused by strikes than by spending cuts.

Six in 10 public sector employees believed that they would lose public support if they caused disruption through strike action and half of all employees agreed that most people today would not be willing to lose pay to go on strike.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, called on public sector managers and unions to “go the extra mile” during the difficult times ahead and work together to avoid damaging industrial action.

He also said no strike should go ahead unless at least 40% of the balloted workforce has voted for it.

Cridland added: “While workers have the legal right to withdraw their labour, employers have a responsibility to run their businesses. The public increasingly expects it to be business as usual, even during a strike, so firms must be allowed to hire temps from an agency to provide emergency cover for striking workers.”

Mike Emmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, said that was essential that public sector employers are given the necessary time to communicate and consult on changes resulting from the Comprehensive Spending Review.

“People are much more likely to accept tough messages if they are given the right information at the right time and feel that their views have at least been heard and taken into account before decisions are made,” he added.

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