Civil servants strike to go ahead after talks with minister break down | Political News


A meeting between civil servants’ unions and the government was a “complete farce” so they will go ahead with their strike, union leaders said.

On Wednesday, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union announced its 100,000 members, from 124 government departments, will strike on 1 February over pay, jobs and conditions.

It will be the largest civil service strike for years, after some sectors took action over Christmas, and coincides with the TUC’s “protect the right to strike day” announced on Tuesday in response to newly proposed government legislation.

There was hope a meeting between the PCS, the FDA union and the Prospect union and Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin on Thursday would stave off action but it broke down without any agreement so the strike will go ahead.

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The PCS union is calling for a 10% pay rise, protections to pensions and protections from job cuts.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “This meeting was a total farce. Despite being well-trailed by the government as a chance to resolve the crisis, it was nothing of the sort because the minister had nothing to offer.

“He didn’t deny our members were being offered less than anyone else, he didn’t deny tens of thousands of our members only get a pay rise because of the rise in the national minimum wage but he refused to give us a pay rise now.”

He added that despite the threat of strikes, Mr Quin “still refused to budge” when they wanted to talk about pay for this financial year, which ends in April, and “could only talk about 2023-24”.

“We will not stand by and watch our members be condemned to low pay. We’ve tried talking but it appears the only option open to us is to force them to change their mind, and the only way we can do that is to escalate our strike action.

“Because of the minister’s refusal to help us now, the one-day strike we announced yesterday will go ahead as promised on 1 February, and we shall look to escalate our action further, calling more members out on more strikes until the government listens to us.”

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Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said there was ‘no money on the table’, the PCS said

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Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, said the talks had been “cordial” but “lacked anything concrete” from the government.

He said that “we could not have been clearer” that if the government “want to resolve disputes, which they say they do, then it requires something tangible to be put on the table, not simply more ‘listening mode’ meetings”.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Prospect union, said a formal ballot on industrial action will now go ahead as he said the ministers “refused to offer any more money for 2022/23 and gave no grounds for optimism that the position would be any different in the coming pay year”.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the meeting included discussions “to help ensure fair and affordable public sector pay settlements” and they “regret” the upcoming strike action but there is a “comprehensive plan” to keep essential services running.

The government has said the PCS’ demands would cost £2.4 billion which is unaffordable.

Talks were also held on Thursday between ministers and doctors’ unions, as well as rail unions.

malek

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