Civil servants are threatening mass walk-outs over a below-inflation public-sector pay deal, with unions accusing the Government of “attacking” the Civil Service.
Unions are due to vote on national strike action over the offer of a 2 per cent pay increase in the midst of a soaring cost of living, equating to a real-terms pay cut for public-sector staff.
It came as ministers indicated plans to hold down rates of public-sector pay below the rate of inflation.
The Public and Commercial Services Union rejected the “derisory” offer, which they said came on top of years of plummeting pay and worsening redundancy and pension deals.
The Government this month signalled its intentions to cut 91,000 jobs from the Civil Service, with ministers repeatedly criticising it for inefficiency and blaming staff working from home.
Union delegates agreed to ballot members in September over strike action after a recent consultation found 81 per cent of members were willing to strike over pay.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The sheer size of this vote shows the very real anxiety and anger our members feel at the way they have been treated by this Government.
“To vote for strike action is a massive step, but the actions of the Government have left us with no alternative.”
He earlier told the conference: “They came for our integrity, accusing us of being lazy because we worked from home.”
He went on: “But then they came for our jobs. They announced plans to close 42 DWP offices, ten Insolvency Offices and, just 10 days ago, told us one in five civil servant’s jobs would go.
“They didn’t listen to us when we carried on working, so maybe now it’s time for us to stop working. It’s time to tell this rotten government: “Enough is enough”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak lifted a freeze on public-sector pay last year, but ministers then announced pay increases across the Civil Service would be pegged at an average of 2 per cent – well below the rate of inflation.
On Tuesday, during a Cabinet meeting, ministers warned increasing pay could risk triggering higher inflation.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Ministers seem to be suggesting that workers providing essential public services should take a wages hit for everyone else. But it’s not pay causing inflation to spiral.”
She added: “Public services can’t function without employees. The Government must invest in the workforce or experienced staff will continue to be lost. That would spell disaster.”