Fresh strikes are to be held by civil servants after unions attacked an announcement of a pay rise for this year of between 4.5% and 5%.
Prospect said its members will walk out on May 10 and June 7 across government departments and other areas such as the Met Office and Health and Safety Executive.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “We have repeatedly offered to engage in pay talks aimed at resolving this dispute, provided they followed a comparable approach to that employed elsewhere in the public service.
“By publishing the pay control, the Government has abandoned its staff to further real terms cuts and to remain at the back of the public service pay queue.
“This industrial action was entirely avoidable, but the Government’s failure to bring anything to the table has made it inevitable and it leaves hard-working civil servants with no option but to protest over their treatment.
“Prospect members are the specialists upon whom all aspects of effective government depend.
“If the Government doesn’t change its stance, then it will face a recruitment and retention crisis that degrades the Civil Service and the public services we all rely on.”
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) described the pay announcement as an “insult”.
PCS members have been taking strike action for months over pay, jobs, pensions and conditions.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This insulting proposal will serve only to anger PCS members, stiffen their resolve ahead of the forthcoming re-ballot and increase the likelihood of a new wave of sustained strike action.
“Unlike the health and education unions that have had intensive talks leading to improved pay offers, we were given no opportunity to negotiate – it’s the most deplorable way to treat their own staff.
“The Government has carried on as if there hasn’t been the biggest industrial action in a decade, if this has been a normal year.
“To make no improvement on 2022’s offer of 2% and to announce a below-inflation rise for 2023 is an insult and shows once again the Government has treated its own workforce demonstrably worse than anyone else.”
The FDA, which represents senior civil servants, said it will now consider holding a national ballot for industrial action.
General secretary Dave Penman said: “Following months of ministers dragging their feet, the government has decided to shoot itself in the foot over civil service pay.
“Today’s pay remit guidance of a 4.5% increase, with no consolidated payment, is unconscionable given the current economic climate that civil servants face.
“This has been done without any meaningful dialogue on the substance of the ‘offer’, despite repeated assurances over the last two months of an enhanced consultation process, which just rubs salt in the wound.
“There is no pretence that the Government places any value in engagement and constructive dialogue.
“This guidance will leave the civil service with the worst pay deal in the public sector by far, showing utter contempt for the vital work they do to support the government and deliver public services that the country relies upon.
“Today I met with the Minister for the Cabinet Office and pleaded with him to pull back from the brink of what will inevitably be a prolonged and damaging dispute.
“We always try to engage constructively and in good faith with the government to reach the best outcome but it’s clear that the Government has no intention of offering us that same courtesy.
“As a result, the FDA’s executive committee will meet on April 19 to consider a national ballot for industrial action in the civil service.”
In a statement about civil service pay for 2023/24, the Cabinet Office said: “This year, departments are able to make average pay awards up to 4.5%.
“This 2023/24 pay remit year is the second of a three-year spending settlement for departments.
“Departments are encouraged to factor in their longer term objectives, including wider workforce priorities that are required to be addressed over the remainder of the Spending Review period, and to target the pay award to address specific priorities in their workforce and pay strategies.
“This year, departments have flexibility to make awards up to an additional 0.5%, to be targeted at lower pay bands.
“Departments must ensure pay awards are affordable within their Spending Settlements, and are aware of the need to balance other budgetary pressures, with consideration of the wider economy and the Government’s macroeconomic framework.
“The percentage increase will refer to overall average pay awards within the department and individuals may receive a higher or lower award, as it is for departments to decide how to target their pay award based on their own workforce and business needs.”
A Government spokesperson said: “This guidance recognises the hard work and vital importance of Civil Service staff by offering the highest pay increase in 20 years, in line with forecast wage growth across the economy.
“The deal is also fair to the taxpayer and supports the Government’s promise to halve inflation this year, which will help everyone’s incomes go further.”