Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union which represents civil servants are on strike in a long running dispute. They're protesting against cuts to pensions and a pay freeze which they say has reduced their incomes by 20 per cent. A rally is planned in Plymouth at midday.
– 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.