Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Civil servants stage first Budget day strike in pay row

Staff from the Royal Courts of Justice on strike (8 March 2010)
Unions say the plans could hit long-serving staff hard

Thousands of civil servants across the UK have taken part in the first civil service strike on Budget day.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) says 200,000 members will be taking part in the strike over plans to cap redundancy pay.

It comes after a two-day stoppage earlier this month in which courts, job centres, prisons, museums and Parliament were all affected.

The Cabinet Office said its plans were fair and services were as normal.

It also maintains that only 81,000 workers - 15% of civil servants - took part in the earlier action.

Final settlement

Minister for the Cabinet Office Tessa Jowell said "at least 70% of PCS members" had ignored the strike and gone to work.

She said: "We have been clear that this is the final settlement. During the negotiating process we responded to the concerns of all the unions, including the PCS, by ensuring additional protection for lower-paid staff.

"This means that the vast majority of PCS members and civil servants will be largely unaffected by the new terms. In fact, nearly all civil servants who earn £20,000 or less - almost half the entire workforce - will see little or no change."

It's Budget Day and there's a picket line outside the Treasury
Conservative leader David Cameron

PCS said reports from their picket lines suggested some 200,000 people - out of a membership of 270,000 - had upheld the strike, which lasts until midnight on Wednesday.

The union also said its national executive would meet on Thursday to discuss the possibility of further action.

At Commons' question time, Conservative leader David Cameron taunted Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the strikes.

Mr Cameron said: "It's Budget Day and there's a picket line outside the Treasury. So will you confirm that on this occasion you'd like people to cross it and go to work?"

Length of service

Mr Brown responded: "Of course everybody is going to work here and we will continue to work for a Labour government and for jobs."

The PCS is unhappy about plans to change the way redundancy pay is calculated, claiming that those who have served the longest could lose thousands of pounds.

It says workers could lose a third of their entitlement over cuts under the civil service compensation scheme.

Under the new system - which takes effect in April and will save about £500m - anyone earning £30,000 or less will be entitled to a maximum of three years' pay or £60,000, whichever is lower.

Redundancy is currently calculated on length of service, with a month's pay for every year worked.

Those earning £30,000 or more will be paid a maximum of two years' pay.

The PCS, Britain's fifth biggest union, said an employee with 20 years' service earning £24,000 a year could lose £20,000 as a result of new caps.

But the government said those earning £30,000 or less - 80% of all staff - would still get up to between two and three years' salary.



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SEE ALSO
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We'll make cuts, Brown tells TUC
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