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HUNDREDS of public-sector workers rallied in Dundee last night as Civil Service union PCS ballots members in a call for a decent pay rise.
They were joined by Scottish TUC delegates who, on the first day of the union confederation’s annual congress, voted to back a £10-an-hour minimum wage and a 16-hour minimum working week.
PCS will ballot 125,000 UK civil servants for industrial action on the basis that successive government pay caps have left them paid an average of 11 per cent less than the rest of the public sector.
A civil servant on a £26,000 salary is now worse off by £2,110 per year, the union says.
Mr Serwotka said: “Civil servants have had enough of being short-changed by ministers and treated like second-class public-sector workers.
“After years of real-terms wage cuts, our members will now be balloted with the aim of launching targeted and sustained strike action which will have a significant effect on key government departments.
He said it was “not good enough” for members of Theresa May’s Cabinet “to praise staff on the one hand for rising to the challenge of Brexit but then betray them on pay with the other.”
If strike action goes ahead, it could take place as early as next month. It would be the biggest Civil Service walkout since the co-ordinated pensions strike in 2011.
The PCS rally came after a day in which fair pay dominated the congress agenda. Motions were carried on equal-pay solidarity, ethnicity pay-gap reporting and living-wage accreditation for apprentices.
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw’s Time for Better Pay campaign was endorsed after opposition from rail union RMT.
Proposing the motion, Usdaw executive member Richie Denton called the rise of in-work poverty “morally indefensible, economically illiterate and totally unacceptable to the trade union movement” and called for a £10 minimum wage and 16-hour minimum working week.
The RMT made the case for a stronger demand than a 16-hour working week, raising concerns over the motion’s allowance for variation. But the motion was carried by congress after Mr Denton emphasised that this was a minimum only.
Also carried was a motion proposed by the STUC black workers’ conference in support of ethnicity pay-gap reporting. Proposing the motion, former STUC president Satnam Ner called the 11 per cent pay gap an “ethnicity penalty” and called for trade unions to lead the way in reporting.
“In order for us to be an influential force that has credibility, we as a trade union movement should never ask the government or employers to do anything when trade unions have not already committed to doing it,” Mr Ner said.
An STUC youth conference motion in support of a living wage for modern apprentices was passed after Unite’s Sean McLaughlin called for the STUC to investigate the full extent of apprenticeship low pay and to discuss accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation.
Congress continues until tomorrow, with further pay issues on the agenda. This morning delegates are expected to back a PCS motion on public-sector pay which asks the STUC general council to co-ordinate a campaign for above-inflation pay increases for all public-sector workers.
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