National civil servant strike looms after vote for industrial action

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Around 100,000 civil servants have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said the legal threshold for industrial action had been reached in 126 separate areas, covering workers including driving test examiners, border force officials and Jobcentre staff.

The union warned that unless it receives “substantial proposals” from the government, it will announce a programme of “sustained industrial action” on November 18.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The Government must look at the huge vote for strike action across swathes of the Civil Service and realise it can no longer treat its workers with contempt.

“Civil servants have willingly and diligently played a vital role in keeping the country running during the pandemic but enough is enough.

“The stress of working in the civil service, under the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, job cuts and office closures means they’ve reached the end of their tethers.

“We are calling on the Government to respond positively to our members’ demands. They have to give our members a 10% pay rise, job security, pensions justice and protected redundancy terms.”

A government spokesman said: “We regret this decision and remain in regular discussion with unions and staff.

“As the public would expect, we have plans in place to keep essential services running and minimise any potential disruption if strikes do go ahead.

“The public sector pay awards are a careful balance between delivering value for money for the taxpayer and recognising the importance of public sector workers.”

A Home Office spokesman added: “We are disappointed that the union has voted in favour of industrial action.

“Our priority will always be to keep our citizens safe and borders secure, and we will not compromise on this.

“As the public would expect, we have plans in place to minimise potential disruption during possible strike action, while still carrying out essential checks.”

National Highways, the Government-owned company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads, says it has about 600 PCS members out of 6,000 employees.

Its executive HR director Elaine Billington said: “We are aware PCS have communicated their national ballot results.

“We are reviewing the impact any strike action may have and will put resilience plans in place to ensure the continued safe operation of our network.”

A Parole Board spokesman said: “We are aware of the potential for a small number of staff to go on strike, but we are confident that we are in a position to ensure no parole reviews are impacted.

“We do not anticipate any impact on hearings or any delay in the parole process.”

It is understood that water regulator Ofwat does not have any customer facing services, so water customers should not be directly affected by strike action.

It will aim to minimise any disruption to services if a strike does go ahead.

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