– Alexander Ehmann, Institute of Directors
At a time when the private sector is working extremely hard to get the economy back into growth, it is extremely frustrating to see public sector unions going out on strike.
Civil servants already enjoy better pay and pensions than the wider workforce, but Mark Serwotka thinks they should take no share of the pain involved in sorting out the public finances.
It sends an awful message to investors around the world for the PCS to strike on Budget Day in an attempt to prevent the essential work of reducing the deficit.
The Government said it will address some of its terms and conditions for employees after public sector workers called a strike:
– Cabinet Office spokesman
While there has been significant recent change in pay and pensions, there are other terms and conditions that have not been updated.
We will address this and ensure a modern employment offer is available to all.
The Government said "pay restraint" had helped protect jobs and its pensions remain "among the very best available" after civil servants announced a strike:
– Cabinet Office spokesman
The Government took the tough decision to freeze public sector pay for two years, while protecting those earning under £21,000 by increasing their pay by at least £250 per year.
Pay restraint has helped to protect jobs in the public sector and support high- quality public services.
In March 2012 we set out our final proposed agreements on pension reform following more than a year of intensive discussions with trade unions.
These reforms will ensure that public sector pensions will remain among the very best available and that they can be sustained for future generations.
The Government said it was "disappointing" that the PCS union is planning three months of industrial action, including a huge strike on Budget day.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "It is disappointing that, yet again, the PCS insist on pushing for futile action which benefits no-one, and damages the services they deliver to the public."
The Public and Commercial Services union says a Budget-day strike will be the first event in a three-month long protest against budget cuts, to include:
- An all-day strike on 20 March with rallies and demonstrations in key locations, including Westminster
- Further national and group strikes of varying durations, including half days and short walkouts, timed to have the greatest impact
- Industrial action short of a strike, including a national overtime ban until 20 June
- Disruptive action in groups
- Strike days interspersed with other protests and campaigning activities around specific themes
The Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said a civil servants' strike planned for Budget day would kickstart a "rolling programme" of industrial action:
This is not a one-day protest, this is the start of a rolling programme of walkouts and disruptive action to put pressure on a government that is refusing to talk to us.
Civil and public servants are working harder than ever to provide the services we all rely on but, instead of rewarding them, the government is imposing cuts to their pay, raiding their pensions and trying to rip up their basic working conditions.
– PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka
We warned more than two years ago that austerity wouldn't work and we were right.
There is an alternative to cutting the living standards of hard-working public servants and our campaign is designed to make the case loud and clear.
The Public and Commercial Services union said almost 250,000 workers will take part in a rolling series of walkouts and protests as it steps up its campaign against budget cuts.
A 24-hour strike will be held on March 20, the day Chancellor George Osborne presents the Budget to Parliament.
Further national stoppages will be held, of varying durations and targeting different parts of the civil service, with dates to be announced at a later stage.
Other forms of disruptive industrial action will also be held, and the PCS said it will seek to co-ordination with other unions on pay and pensions.
The head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, has tweeted that the announcement later today on reforms to Whitehall is a "good plan" for his colleagues.
Important announcement today by Francis Maude on Civil Service Reform. This is a good plan that civil servants can and should get behind.
The government wants to change the way Whitehall operates to increase accountability, simplify hierarchies and make sure government departments operate more like businesses.
Three departments in particular will undergo reviews to make them function more effectively. They are: The Department for Education, Work and Pensions and Communities and Local Government.
The Financial Times looks at what the review is trying to achieve.
Among the reforms to Whitehall departments which are expected to be unveiled by Cabinet Office minster Francis Maude today are:
- Perks such as free holidays axed
- End to clothing allowances
- Departments more concentrated on delivering Government policy
- Flexible working arrangements under review
- Rights reviewed for having time off for the Queen’s Birthday