More than 130,000 civil servants strike over pay and conditions

Members of the PCS union on a picket line in March. Credit: PA

More than 130,000 civil servants will go on strike on Friday in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in 132 government departments will be involved in the industrial action.

It comes as widespread strike action spreads across the country.

The leader of the union accused the government of waging an “ideological war” on its own workforce as the row remains deadlocked.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, claimed ministers were “bullying” civil servants.

He said: “When you look at how badly ministers treat their own staff, it’s impossible not to think this is an ideological war on civil servants.

“The evidence stacks up – ministers bullying their staff, giving our members the worst pay rise in the country, refusing to give them a back-dated pay claim or lump sum like they’ve given everyone else, failing even to negotiate with us – so how else do you explain it?

“How else do you explain the incessant attacks by government ministers on their own workforce, if it’s not a point of principle?"

He added: “We were lauded throughout the pandemic, including by the prime minister when he was chancellor, yet now we’re treated worse than anyone else, so it’s no wonder our members’ anger is growing.

“Ministers should be setting an example to employers, paying their own staff a fair wage, not leading the race to the bottom.”

The union said its campaign of industrial action shows no sign of abating, with its members on strike next week at the Passport Office, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Care Quality Commission.

The union this week announced a 15-day strike at HMRC in the same dispute.

It added that its recent research showed that one in five DWP workers claimed benefits and one in 14 DWP offices had their own food banks.

PCS members taking part in a rally in March. Credit: PA

Friday’s action follows a strike on Thursday by teachers in England in a pay dispute, and announcements by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the drivers’ union Aslef of strikes in their pay dispute with train operators.

Aslef members will walk out on May 12 and 31 and June 3, the day of the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

The RMT announced a strike on May 13, the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.

The Royal College of Nursing has had to shorten a planned 48-hour strike this weekend after losing a court case taken by the Government questioning the legality of the walkout.

RCN members will strike from Sunday evening to Monday evening but not on May 2 as previously planned.

School leaders’ union NAHT announced it will formally ballot its members in England on industrial action over pay, funding, workload and wellbeing.

The ballot will ask one question – whether school leaders are willing to take strike action.

The move comes after NAHT members rejected the government’s recent pay offer, calling it “inadequate and unaffordable.”

A total of 90% rejected the offer, with 78% saying they would be prepared to vote for industrial action if the offer was rejected.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). Credit: PA

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “Our members have been very clear: they are fed up with their continued mistreatment by the government, and they want to stand up and be counted.

“I took part in the recent intensive negotiations with the Education Secretary in good faith, and we took the best offer the government could make us to our members. Their response could not be more clear: it is just not good enough.

“School leaders have suffered over a decade of pay erosion and are feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis just like everyone else. But they still voted against a pay rise, knowing the damage it would do to their schools, pupils and staff.

“A pay offer from the government without the funding to back it is an utterly empty promise. It simply leads to redundancies and reduced support for children.”

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