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Union ballots members over striking against public sector pay cap

One of the UK’s largest public sector unions has launched a consultative ballot to find the views of its members on whether to take industrial action over the government’s controversial 1% pay cap.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union’s ballot, which will run until 6 November, is asking members to give their views on the pay cap and whether they would be willing to take industrial action in protest to it.

Though the government has taken steps to lift the cap for police officers and parliamentary rumours have suggested that the government could be preparing to make changes for the rest of the public sector, there has not yet been any solid promises from Whitehall about the policy being dropped.

From 2010 to 2016 the 1% cap on salaries has seen average pay drop by between £2,000 and £3,500 per year and has been deeply unpopular for public sector workers, including staff in local government and the NHS.

The ballot is the first trade union ballot on public sector pay since the general election, and comes around a month before chancellor Philip Hammond announces key fiscal reforms in his Autumn Budget.

“The Tories have no mandate to continue with the pay cap,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said. “PCS has consistently argued that capping public sector pay is counterproductive, unjust and unnecessary. 

“We reject any divide and rule offers which seeks to pit some public sector workers against others.”

Serwotka added that despite civil servants being vital to keeping the country running, they had seen cuts to their pay, pensions and redundancy terms as a result of the government’s austerity policies.

“It is only right that our members have their say and send the government and devolved administrations of this land a clear message over pay,” he explained.

“We are clear - pay misery for public servants must end and the government must restore public sector pay and invest in public services to levels that allow working people to live with the dignity and security they deserve.”

Recently, other unions have called for the pay cap to be brought to an end, with the GMB last month stating that November’s Budget was “too late” for a decision on the policy.

Today’s news also comes in the same month that the PCS have taken industrial action in Sheffield in protest of the closure of an important job centre.

Top Image:  Yui Mok PA Archive

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