Unions threaten STRIKES over 3% civil service pay rises

Furious civil service unions threaten STRIKES as ministers say pay rises should be limited to 3% this year to match the private sector – while inflation is set to average 7.4%

  • Unions have threatened industrial action over 3% limit on civil service pay rises
  • Government says the remit gives ‘broad parity with private sector settlements’
  • CPI inflation is forecast to average 7.4 per cent this year with fears of wage spiral 

Rishi Sunak has warned of the threat from inflation

Furious unions today threatened strike action after ministers declared that civil service pay rises should be limited to 3 per cent this year.

The government has issued a remit for average award of 2 per cent with a further 1 per cent that can be targeted to staff where there are ‘specific priorities’.

Cabinet Office minister Heather Wheeler said the increase would ensure ‘broad parity with private sector wage settlements’ while allowing investment in services with public finances under massive strain.

The news comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke vowed to reverse the spiralling civil headcount after Brexit and Covid, and warned against ‘wildly unrealistic’ expectations on pay.

MPs and peers have come under fire over a 2.7 per cent hike due to take effect next week.  

But unions condemned the increase as too low, with CPI inflation forecast to average 7.4 per cent this year and the tax burden rising. 

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said the offer was effectively a cut and it is considering an ‘industrial response’.

‘The failure of the Government to recognise the cost-of-living crisis is a disgrace and shows utter contempt to our members, who have worked themselves to the bone during the pandemic,’ he said.

‘A Government that can afford to write off £8.7 billion on unusable PPE – much of it given to party members and supporters – can afford to pay its workers a decent wage.

‘PCS will now be discussing an industrial response to this outrage.’

Garry Graham, deputy General Secretary of Prospect, said: ‘With inflation rocketing, a National Insurance increase coming in and energy prices going through the roof this 2-3 per cent pay remit guidance means yet another crippling real-terms pay cut for civil servants.

The OBR has forecast CPI inflation to average 7.4 per cent this year

The news comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke vowed to reverse the spiralling civil headcount after Brexit and Covid

‘Once again the government is using civil service pay as a political football and attempting to balance the books by penalising the people who have delivered so much through the twin challenges of Brexit and Covid. And let’s not forget that civil servants have already had a 20% real terms pay cut since 2010.’

In a written statement to the Commons, Ms Wheeler said: ‘We need to ensure that the Civil Service is equipped with the right skills and values, and that the policymakers are closer to the communities they serve. 

‘However, we must also balance pay settlements with our macroeconomic objectives and the need to invest in high quality public services. This remit guidance ensures broad parity with private sector wage settlements while providing fair pay rises for hard working staff.

‘This year’s guidance sets out that Civil Service organisations are able to make pay awards of up to 3 per cent. 

‘They will have freedom to pay average awards up to 2 per cent, with a further 1 per cent to be targeted at specific priorities in their workforce and pay strategies. 

‘In addition, organisations are able to fund legal requirements of increases to the National Living Wage (NLW) by 6.6 per cent to £9.50 per hour from April 2022.’   

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