PCS condemns meeting with government minister over pay dispute as “total farce”

Katie Neame
© BasPhoto/Shutterstock.com

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka has declared that his union will “look to escalate our action further” following a meeting with the government that he condemned as a “total farce”.

The PCS announced on Wednesday that as many as 100,000 members will take part in a one-day strike on February 1st, in what the union said will be the “largest civil service strike for years”.

Union representatives met with cabinet minister Jeremy Quin this morning to discuss the ongoing dispute with the government, which relates to pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.

Commenting following the talks, Serwotka 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.

“Despite all we told him, despite knowing the alternative would be sustained industrial action, he still refused to budge, saying he could only talk about 2023/24.”

The PCS announced in November that its ballot for strike action in the civil service received an average ‘yes’ vote of 86.2% across the areas balloted – the highest in the union’s history. Approximately 100,000 civil servants are thought to have voted in favour of strike action.

A total of 126 employer areas voted in favour of strikes and met the 50% turnout threshold legally required for industrial action. The one-day strike in February will involve members in all employer areas where the turnout passed that threshold.

PCS members working in the Border Force, Rural Payments Agency and National Highways took part in strike action in December, along with driving test examiners.

Serwotka said today: “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 February 1st, and we shall look to escalate our action further, calling more members out on more strikes until the government listens to us.”

The strike will coincide with the TUC’s national ‘protect the right to strike’ day, announced earlier this week. The union body said events will take place across the country in protest against the government’s new anti-strike legislation.

Announcing the TUC’s national ‘protect the right to strike’ day, general secretary Paul Nowak said: “On February the 1st, we will hold events across the country against this spiteful new bill – which is unworkable and almost certainly illegal.

“We will call on the general public to show support for workers taking action to defend their pay and conditions, to defend our public services and to protect the fundamental right to strike.”

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