Around a quarter of a million civil servants are to be balloted about taking part in a fresh round of strike action, to protest against cuts to pay and pensions and poorer working conditions.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said it expected to get members' backing for walkouts across England, Wales and Scotland – possibly before Easter.
The PCS, which is intending to co-ordinate strikes with other unions, said it was looking at several one-day or half-day actions. The union has already taken three days of strikes over pay and pension reforms. It said it had asked for talks with the Cabinet Office and employers but claimed the offer had been turned down.
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS, said the union feared a review of civil service conditions could lead to longer hours and fewer family-friendly policies, while a four-year freeze and cap on pay, coupled with increased pension contributions, would cut pay by 16 per cent by 2014. The PCS has called for a pay rise of five per cent, or £1,200, for all civil servants this year.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the "tough decision to freeze public sector pay for two years" has "helped to protect jobs in the public sector". He added: "It is disappointing that yet again the PCS insist on pushing for futile action which benefits no one."