Members of the PCS central government union have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in over 120 areas of government activity. The average majority “yes” vote of over 86% is the highest in the union’s history. The union is calling for a 10% pay rise, pensions justice, job security and no cuts to redundancy terms. With no response from the government on these issues PCS has agreed an initial programme of targeted action in the ministries covering ports, borders and all areas of transport among others. Meanwhile, more health workers in range of areas including blood and transplant services are being balloted by the Unite union whose members in the ambulance service in Scotland were due to begin industrial action – an overtime ban and work to rule – from 25 November. Earlier in the week, a second wave of strikes in universities began, involving both teaching and non-teaching staff, protesting at the employers’ failure to increase 3% pay offer. Firefighters have also rejected a pay offer (5%) in a consultative ballot and will now vote in a ballot for industrial action, opening on 5 December and running to 23 January.
Central government workers latest to vote for strike action
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The FBU firefighters’ union is the latest public service union to consider industrial action over pay. The union has rejected a 2% pay offer and is now consulting its membership over a possible national ballot on strike action. Workers in universities, including non-teaching staff, began strike action on 20 September, having rejected a 3% pay offer and calling for a pay rise to match inflation. In the health service, the RCN nursing union has postponed its historic ballot on industrial action to run from 6 October to 2 November while in central government the PCS’s ballot for industrial action
In a consultative ballot, members of the PCS civil service union expressed support for a campaign, including industrial action, to end the government's 1% limit on increases to public sector pay. The union has planned a series of protests around the country on 21 November, calling on the government to include funds in the upcoming budget to allow for pay increases above the 1% limit. It will also be talking to other public service unions about coordinated action.
A nine-month long dispute between the PCS civil service union and contractors ISS and Aramark could be near to conclusion if details of a pay offer are confirmed. The companies provide services to the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy which has indicated that the contractors may meet the union's demand to pay the London living wage of £10.55 (EUR 11.80) an hour. Meanwhile, the union is planning another five days of strike action in another long-running dispute, this time over union recognition at the contractor Interserve which provides services for the Foreign Office.