25 February 2010
Up to 270,000 civil and public servants from across the UK are set to launch a month of industrial action with a 48 hour strike on 8 and 9 March in a dispute over unilateral changes to redundancy terms,PCS announced today.
Strike action could hit civil and public services every week of next month from Monday 8 March following strong support in a ballot which saw 63.4% of those voting backing strike action and 81.4% supporting an overtime ban.
The strikes, which will involve Jobcentre staff, tax workers, coastguards, border agency officials, courts staff and driving test examiners, are a result of the government and Cabinet Office making unilateral changes to the civil service compensation scheme.
The changes will see staff robbed of up to a third of their entitlements and see loyal civil and public servants lose tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job. The government is looking to save £500 million through the changes, based on the number of jobs it has axed over the last three years.
With all the main political parties planning deep spending cuts, the union fears that the cuts to the scheme will lead to tens of thousands of job losses on the cheap.
The union’s national executive committee will be meeting next week on 2, 3 and 4 March to finalise further strike dates, which could include national walkouts and targeted strike action.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said:
“These cuts, which will see loyal civil and public servants lose tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job, are more about crude politicking than making savings.
We have suggested ways in which the government can make these savings whilst protecting the rights of existing members, yet it seems intent on penalising the people who keep this country running.
With civil and public service jobs increasingly at risk, this is a cynical attempt to cut jobs on the cheap which will ultimately damage the services we all rely on. The government needs to recognise the depth of anger which has been demonstrated by this ballot result and find the political will to negotiate a settlement that avoids a sustained campaign of industrial action.”