Hundreds Of Thousands Of Civil Servants To Strike

(Telegraph) – UP TO 270,000 civil servants including benefits staff, tax officers and border officials will stage a two-day strike over plans to cut their early retirement payments.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union will walk out for 48 hours from March 8.

The union said the striking workers also include Jobcentre staff, coastguards, courts staff and driving test examiners.

Ministers warned that voters will have little sympathy for the union for rejecting a deal that has been accepted by other civil service unions.

The dispute is over plans to cut redundancy payouts for long serving civil servants in their 50s from a maximum of six years’ salary to just two years’ salary.

The change is forecast to save taxpayers £500 million over three years.

Ministers privately say the current scheme was excessively generous, encouraging civil servants to “sit on their hands and wait for the jackpot payday” when they retire.

In talks over the changes, the Cabinet Office had offered to guarantee £50,000 for all low-paid officials who were made redundant.

That was accepted by five other public sector unions – representing 100,000 civil servants – but rejected by the PCS.

Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary said more strikes will follow unless ministers back down.

He said: “These cuts, which will see loyal civil and public servants lose tens of thousands of pounds if they are forced out of a job, are more about crude politicking than making savings.

“With civil and public service jobs increasingly at risk, this is a cynical attempt to cut jobs on the cheap which will ultimately damage the services we all rely on. The government needs to recognise the depth of anger which has been demonstrated by this ballot result and find the political will to negotiate a settlement that avoids a sustained campaign of industrial action.”

Tessa Jowell, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The public will find it difficult to understand the PCS continuing to protest on their own against a package which brings the Civil Service into line with the rest of the public sector and still offers more generous terms than much of the private sector.

She added that all Government departments have plans in place to “minimise any disruption” to members of the public caused by the strike.