Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union to launch huge strike ballot over pay campaign

National strike ballot will take place of more than 160,000 members in 171 government departments.

15 Mar 2024| News

Photo: Nick Efford

The union is to launch a strike ballot across the UK Civil Service in support of its national campaign for decent pay, pensions justice and job protection.

The PCS national executive met on the 6th March to agree the next steps in the national campaign, following a national consultation and the submission of their pay demands to the Cabinet Office on 16 February.

The statutory postal-only ballot opens on 18 March and closes on 13 May. A special NEC meeting will then be held on 15 May to consider the results.

PCS pay demands for 2024/25 to the UK Government include:

  • a cost-of-living rise, with an inflation-proofed increase plus pay restoration
  • pay equality across departments
  • a living wage of £15 per hour
  • London weighting provision of a minimum £5,000 per year
  • 35 days annual leave minimum
  • a significant shortening of the working week with no loss of pay.

Trade dispute letters were sent to employers at all levels in the dispute on 19 February. There are 206 bargaining areas in the dispute encompassing nearly 150,000 PCS members.

The PCS press statement continued:

“The Cabinet Office generally publishes the civil service pay remit guidance annually on 31 March. The NEC believes that it is important to send a signal to the employer that we are serious about moving to industrial action to get them to meet our demands through the remit guidance process.

At a meeting last week, the Cabinet Office invited us to set out our priorities for the remit guidance. We said that our priorities in talks on this year’s remit would be:

  • an inflation-proofed increase plus a degree of pay restoration;
  • and measures to deal with low pay, particularly the impact of statutory rises in the national minimum wage eradicating the civil service grading structure at the 3 most junior grades.”

Survey shows great support

A national campaign survey which ran from 20 February to 5 March, showed that members overwhelmingly backed the NEC’s campaign strategy.

96% of respondents said they supported the pay demands, 82% were prepared to strike to achieve them and 66% supported a strike levy to fund paid targeted action.

PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said:

“We warned the government that our national campaign would continue if our demands were not met. We won pay rises last year of up to 5% for all our members, plus a one-off cost-of-living payment of £1,500.

We told ministers we expected at least inflation-proof pay rises this year, but so far they have refused to commit to even that. Our members showed last year they were prepared to take sustained strike action – the government can expect more of the same this year if they don’t meet our demands and treat our hard-working members with the respect they deserve.”