PCS demo PCS members demonstrating in London, 2012. Photo: Flickr/julsnewton

The trade union is demanding that the limit on wages be scrapped immediately

Building on their resounding victory in the High Court which saw the government’s savage cuts to redundancy pay overturned, the Public and Commercial Services Union has announced it will ballot members on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action against the public sector pay cap in the coming weeks.

Civil servants have endured cuts to their pay, pensions and redundancy terms as a direct result of the government’s ruthless austerity policies.

According to the union, civil service wages fell by between £2,000 and £3,500 between 2010 and 2016.

The decision to ballot members follows the union’s correspondence to the Prime Minister after the general election demanding an immediate end to the 1% pay cap. The PCS accused the government of ‘a complacent and dismissive response’ after Cabinet Office Minister Damian Green flippantly told the union, “the civil service offers an exceptional package of benefits… which are amongst the best available” dismissing 120,000 jobs cuts as a ‘trade off’ between jobs and pay.

The union is demanding the limit on wages is scrapped immediately and replaced with pay rises of at least 5%, saying there is ‘escalating chaos’ at Number 10 over the future of the cap.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said it was only right that members should have their say and send the government a clear message over pay and that “the government must restore public sector pay to levels that allow working people to live with the dignity and security they deserve.”

Treasury officials rumoured to be in favour of lifting the pay cap are said to be meeting hostility from the Cabinet Office, despite the Tories having no mandate to continue it.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that Hollyrood will scrap the pay cap and future pay rises will be linked to increases in the cost of living, putting Theresa May under further pressure to discard the limit and meet the union’s demands of a 5% pay increase.

Mr Serwotka described the public sector pay cap as ‘counterproductive, unjust and unnecessary.’ Arguably a fitting description of austerity itself.

Kara Bryan

Kara Bryan is a writer and activist and regular contributor to the Counterfire website. She is a member of Counterfire and Stop the War

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