Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 13:25 UK

Thousands in civil service strike

Union placard
The union is to vote on potential summer strikes

Thousands of civil servants have taken strike action, joining a 24-hour walk-out by about 700 coastguard control room staff

About 100,000 staff from 10 government departments struck over plans for pay rises to be capped below inflation, their union said.

The government says small pay deals for public sector staff are needed to maintain long-term economic stability.

The Public and Commercial Services union said further action could follow.

The strike on Thursday coincided with separate disputes involving members of the National Union of Teachers and some further education lecturers.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency staff began their third 24-hour stoppage in the dispute at 1900 BST on Wednesday.

The government's argument that paying public and civil servants a decent wage fuels inflation is disingenuous and discredited
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka

A Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) spokesman said about half of the 19 UK-wide search and rescue centres had closed as a result of the control-room staff walkout, but the volunteers who man rescue boats were unaffected by the strike.

Among the other workers joining civil servants on strike were Jobcentre workers and driving examiners.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the scale of industrial action was huge and staff were "furious" over a series of below-inflation pay offers.

'Discredited' claim

"The government's policy to peg public sector pay to below inflation is embedding a culture of low pay across civil and public services," he said.

"It is scandalous that coastguard watch assistants, who save lives, along with other colleagues in the civil service who deliver essential services, would be paid just above the minimum wage.

"The government's argument that paying public and civil servants a decent wage fuels inflation is disingenuous and discredited."

Government departments and agencies hit by the strike included the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office, the Department for Transport, the Driving Standards Agency, and the Highways Agency.

Strike disrupts third of schools
23 Apr 08 |  Education
Ex-coastguard chief urges reform
22 Apr 08 |  Politics

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