UP TO 150,000 civil servants could walk off the job this summer after PCS members voted to resist wage restraint and launch a ballot for national strike action against government wage cuts.
Delegates at the annual conference of PCS in Brighton condemned the fact that the real-terms pay of civil servants has dropped by 9 per cent since 2010.
However, the government has only budgeted for a 1 per cent pay rise this year — far below the rate of inflation.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, moving the motion on behalf of the union’s national executive committee, said: “This motion asks you to say no — no to job cuts, no to below-inflation pay rises.
“Our members have been treated disgracefully over the last decade and they have had enough.”
Mr Serwotka pointed out the examples of real-term pay rises PCS has won for members in Wales and Scotland, showing that the union is in a strong position to beat back the government on pay.
He also reminded Prime Minister Theresa May that if her government closes the £119 billion tax gap in Britain, then this could enable proper funding of the public sector.
Mr Serwotka also pointed out that members could expect support from the Labour leadership, the trade union movement, and wider society, because people’s awareness of pay injustice is “the strongest bargaining position we can have.”
A core concern of the union is whether they can top a 50 per cent turnout threshold on the ballot, which is mandatory under the most recent Trade Union Act.
The record for biggest turnout in the union’s history stands at 48.8 per cent.
“We want this vote so that we can take the greatest political pressure from our members to place on the negotiating table with the government.”
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) delegate said that “the money is there, it is time we fought for it. I am sick of relying on benefits to pay my rent.
“We should be taking lessons from the UCU [University and College Union] in the way they have mobilised real support and gained public sympathy.”
Speaking to delegates, Mr Serwotka condemned this “obnoxious government” on domestic, industrial and international spheres.
He said: “We are a union that is going to seize the industrial opportunity that we have.
“We are going to defeat the government in the public sector, and they will realise that they have to start treating their workforce — our members — with decency and respect.
“The Tories are now weak and divided. But they are still a vicious government, that thinks that those with the most, at the top of society, deserve the most care.
“If the government will not give us more — and if we have the mandate — we will go out to members and take action at the time that hurts the government most.
“Let’s force Theresa May to put her hand in her pocket and pay our members what they truly deserve.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Industrial action is always a matter of regret, and we encourage PCS to continue to talk with officials to explore the possibilities of reform to civil service pay arrangements going forward.”
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