PCS slams government decision to withdraw from talks as 280,000 staff walk out

Relations between the Cabinet Office and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) hit a new low in the run up to yesterday’s (1 May) national strike.

PCS leader Mark Serwotka wrote to cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell last week to express his anger at the decision to withdraw from pay talks until the union ceases industrial action.

Christopher Johnson, the Cabinet Office’s director of employment and reward, had written to PCS officials, stating the union’s decision to call strike action did not “provide a basis for constructive discussion and resolution of issues”.

Serwotka said he found the stance “disturbing and ironic”, and accused the government of “deliberately undermining” the chances of constructive talks aimed at resolving the dispute.

“I have no doubt that a continuing refusal to meet and talk directly to PCS representatives about pay issues will create further anger and resentment among our members,” he wrote. “There is a real danger that the decision will be seen as the government turning its back on its own employees, by refusing to talk about the real issues which affect them.”

Up to 280,000 civil servants walked out yesterday in protest at low pay, job cuts and privatisation. The one-day strike will be followed by a two-week overtime ban.

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