More than 100,000 civil servants are expected to go on strike next month’s budget day
More than 100,000 civil servants are expected to go on strike on Budget Day in an escalating row over salaries, pensions and job security.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced a new strike date for March 15, when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is due to present his spring budget.
It follows a strike last week that erupted by hundreds of thousands of members in 123 government departments across England, Scotland and Wales.
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The union warned next month’s strike could involve a further 33,000 members working for 10 other employers, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), whose election results are due on February 28.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Rishi Sunak doesn’t seem to understand that the more he ignores our members’ demands for a pay rise to get them through the cost-of-living crisis, the more angry and determined he makes them.
“PCS members are suffering a totally unacceptable drop in their salaries. By April, for example, a third of HMRC staff will only be earning minimum wage. 40,000 officers used a panel. It’s an appalling way the government is treating its own workforce.”
Mr Serwotka said the prime minister “can end this dispute tomorrow if he puts more money on the table”.
He warned: “If he refuses, further action is inevitable.”
The PCS union is demanding a 10% pay rise, protection of pensions and protection against job cuts.
The Government has said the demands – which it says would cost £2.4billion – are unaffordable.
The dispute grew more acrimonious when Mr Serwotka called for talks to stop the action last month a “complete farce” and warning of future strikes “will get bigger” if ministers don’t act.
The strikes have impacted several key government departments and agencies, including Border Force, National Highways, the Department of Works and Pensions and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
The newly elected members include those working for HMRC, the Welsh Government, the Care Quality Commission and Companies House.
Civil servants are among thousands of public sector workers on strike over wages and working conditions amid rising inflation and falling living standards.
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Nurses continued their industrial action today after walking out Monday alongside paramedics and call attendants in what was the biggest strike in NHS history.
Environment Agency workers will leave tomorrow, while teachers and university staff will continue to strike next week.
Union leaders have begged the government to take action to prevent more strikes, but ministers in England have indicated they will not budge on one of the main bones of contention – pay for 2022/23.