British civil servants’ union calls nationwide strike ballot

London, Sept. 6, 2017 (TNE) : British civil servants will vote in October on nationwide strike action to put pressure on the government to abandon its one per cent cap on public sector pay rises, the trade union said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is considering lifting the cap for at least some public-sector workers later in the year.

She will not commit to lifting the cap for nurses who are likely to get an increase after opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged her in parliament over wages in the public and private sector.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), the main union for civil servants, said it would ballot nearly 200,000 members between Oct. 9 and Nov. 6 to assess appetite for what would be their first nationwide strike since October 2014.

If there are no concessions on pay after the first ballot, the union will hold a second ballot to confirm support for specific strike action.

“Pay misery for public servants must end and the government must restore public-sector pay to levels that allow working people to live with the dignity and security they deserve,” Mark Serwotka, the PCS’s General Secretary, said.

The PCS said it had wanted to pay the increase of at least five per cent for all public-sector workers.

Average weekly earnings in the public sector rose by 1.3 per cent over the past year, compared with a 2.2 per cent rise in private-sector wages.

Consumer price inflation was 2.6 per cent over the same period.

Some 5.4 million Britons work in the public sector, of which just over 400,000 work in the civil service.

Most public-sector staff work as teachers or in the National Health Service. (TNE)

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