Union fury over two-year public sector pay freeze
Britain is on the brink of a series of crippling co-ordinated strikes, with more than a million union members planning to bring the country to a standstill.
Key workers, ranging from teachers to tax officials, university lecturers and coastguard controllers, will walk out on June 30.
Other strikes are likely to follow over the coming months as unions vent their fury at the Government’s programme of spending cuts.
The country’s biggest civil servant union, the Public and Commercial Services Union, is today expected to vote overwhelmingly to ballot for a national strike.
To add to the problems facing the country, it is planning to co-ordinate with other unions to ensure that the walk-outs have the maximum impact.
It has already persuaded teaching unions to join its strike plan, and is continuing to try to persuade other unions to sign up. Speaking on the eve of today’s PCS conference in Brighton, the militant general secretary of the union, Mark Serwotka, said: ‘Together we can win.’
Around 1,050,000 State workers are expected to take part in the national strike next month, which could lead to widespread closures of key government services. Mr Serwotka said he was ‘inspired’ by last year’s student protests, which led to violent scenes in central London.
The unprecedented action by around 680,000 teachers will close almost every school in England.
Millions of children will be turned away from the school gates, causing mayhem for parents. A further 120,000 college and university lecturers will follow suit. The PCS’s national executive committee is unanimously recommending a ballot for strike action for its 250,000 members.
If it is voted through, ballot papers will be sent out next week ahead of a planned strike at the end of next month.
The union’s leaders are angry about the two-year public sector pay freeze for those earning £21,000 or more, the cuts to pensions and the threat to jobs.
Mr Serwotka said: ‘We will need to be creative in our campaigning, tough in our bargaining and prepared to take action.
‘We can work together, campaign together and, yes, strike together – and together we can win.’
Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Assuming our ballot is positive we will be striking on June 30, with other unions. We chose this date because it avoids exam time.
‘It is the first time we’ve had a national strike since 1979 so it is enormously significant and indicative of the level of anger and discontent.’