Civil servants to be balloted on strike

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Indy Politics

Nearly 300,000 civil servants are to be balloted on the first strike throughout Whitehall for more than a decade, action which could bring virtually all government services to a halt.

Nearly 300,000 civil servants are to be balloted on the first strike throughout Whitehall for more than a decade, action which could bring virtually all government services to a halt.

Frustrated by ministers' alleged refusal to negotiate on the loss of 100,000 posts in the civil service, the leader of the biggest Civil Service union yesterday urged his members to vote for a 24-hour stoppage on 5 November and warned that there could be more industrial action to follow.

If members of the PCS union vote for the strike, everything from tax collection and immigration to Customs and Excise and Ministry of Defence could be affected.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the union, said representations to ministers had "fallen on deaf ears'' and that the decision to shed the jobs was taken without consultation. "The Government is acting like the very worst private sector employer,'' Mr Serwotka said.

"The people the Government is seeking to axe aren't bowler-hatted Sir Humphreys or faceless bureaucrats; they provide vital services that touch everybody's lives from cradle to grave.''

He said the decision to ballot had not been taken lightly, but the plan to axe 104,000 jobs would "decimate'' essential frontline services and constituted "the biggest attack on the Civil Service in history''.

The PCS leader said his members were angry over ministers' refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies. He said workers would be forced to relocate from London and the south-east, and would lose special allowances in the process. It was a back door to regional pay rates, he said.

Plans to make civil servants work five years longer - until they were 65 - in order to qualify for pensions meant that the Government was reneging on a long-standing pledge to its employees. He said civil servants were being portrayed as "skivers'' because of plans to reduce sick leave entitlements.

A Treasury spokesman said: "We make no apology for implementing the efficiency savings which will redirect resources from the centre to frontline public services.''

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