By Connor Steel
CIVIL SERVANTS across the region look set to join a national day of industrial action on February 1 with the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) announcing that approximately one hundred thousand members will walk out; causing disruption to Government departments in an ongoing row over pay and job conditions.
This action was confirmed by PCS secretary Mark Serwotka last Wednesday and is set to be the largest ‘civil service strike’ in years, this date deliberately selected to coincide with the ‘National Right to Strike Day’. This was confirmed by the TUC in response to Government legislation that was passed early on Monday evening.
Over 124 departments voted to take this strike action back in November with an overwhelming majority; staff struggling with the cost of living crisis and lack of wage increases compared to other key sectors after Covid. The Government have offered a pay-rise of between two and three percent, which was immediately rejected.
Instead the PCS are calling for a ten percent increase in line with inflation alongside pension protections and security; particularly after plans were published to cut 91,000+ Civil Service roles. Frustrations are further felt over recent comments made by former Cabinet member Jacob Rees-Mogg in an online tweet reacting to the latest strikes, appearing to controversially slate staff saying: “If they are not in the office will anyone notice?”.
Talks have broken down with PCS demands forecast to cost around £2.4 billion to fully facilitate, with strikes seen as a last resort. It joins similar action seen across multiple sectors this winter; including railways, Royal Mail, the NHS, Border Force staff, driving examiners, and National Highways workers since early June 2022.
These strikes could lead to local disruption across multiple areas; including jobcentres in Gosport, Fareham, Cosham, and Portsmouth; although any issues with scheduled benefit payments are unlikely. Impacts could further be felt at the National Office of Statistics (ONS) in Titchfield and coastguard facilities along the coast.
But the strike on February 1 won’t include those from across HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who failed to reach the fifty-percent threshold of support in November despite a large majority. This department will hold another ballot in the upcoming weeks and are likely to strike by late-February; including Cosham-based staff.
Readers are encouraged to visit media sites such as BBC News, Sky News and ITV News for all developing updates; including any information on new industrial action and how it may affect local people from this area.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (C52ABF): Local impacts may be felt as Civil Servants prepare to strike in February.