Britain's most senior civil servants have voted to join 1.5 million other public sector workers in a major pre-election strike over pensions.
Top Whitehall administrators, tax inspectors and lawyers are to walk out with dustmen, dinner ladies and Jobcentre staff on 23 March. Other 24-hour stoppages could also take place ahead of the expected general election on 5 May.
The FDA union, representing the highest grades in Whitehall, said 68 per cent of its 10,000 members had voted to stop work in what would be the biggest single walkout since the General Strike of 1926.
The moderate FDA, formerly the First Division Association, said its members last took industrial action in 1981.
It was hoped that talks later this week between the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and the leaders of local authority unions - which are also calling a strike on 23 March - would lead to more general talks which would include the representatives of civil servants.