Members of PCS working across the civil and public service have begun voting in a ballot for further national civil service strike action in an escalation of the union's campaign against job cuts, below inflation pay and privatisation.
The ballot involving 270,000 members working in over 200 different government departments, agencies and non departmental public bodies follows two strongly supported one-day national civil service strikes this year.
The decision to escalate the campaign comes against a backdrop of compulsory redundancies and deteriorating services due to job cuts in key areas such as tax and getting people back into work, as well as worsening pay conditions as the government seeks to cut pay in real terms. A quarter of the civil service earn £16,000 or less and just under half earn less than the UK's average salary.
The ballot also comes two days after compulsory redundancies were announced in the Wildlife Administration Unit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The result of the ballot is expected to be announced on Tuesday 23 October 2007.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "People delivering the essential services that we all rely on have grown increasingly angry as the services they deliver suffer due to job cuts and office closures. This anger has only been fueled by the government's desire to cut wages in real terms with below inflation pay offers. This ballot marks an escalation in the campaign which could lead to further strike action hitting courts, tax offices, jobcentres and prisons. PCS has and continues to stand ready to negotiate with civil service management at any time. The government and civil service management need to recognise that they can't continue to bury their head in the sand and start negotiating an agreement with the union to resolve the dispute."