Civil servants to vote on strikes

The Government is facing a fresh strike by civil servants after a union announced it is balloting 250,000 of its members in a row over pay, pensions and working conditions.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union warned of a series of walkouts across England, Wales and Scotland, adding that it would seek support from other unions about co-ordinated action.

Voting will start on February 8 and close on March 4, raising the threat of pre-Easter stoppages.

The union has already taken three days of strikes over pay and the long-running dispute over controversial reforms to public-sector pensions.

Officials said the Government was planning to attack hours, holidays, sick pay and flexible arrangements under a review of working conditions announced last year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the lives of civil and public servants were being made more difficult by cuts.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "It is disappointing that yet again the PCS insist on pushing for futile action which benefits no-one and damages the services they deliver to the public.

"The Government took the tough decision to freeze public-sector pay for two years while protecting those earning under £21,000 by increasing their pay by at least £250 per year. Pay restraint has helped to protect jobs in the public sector and support high-quality public services.

"Because we want to attract the best staff we will remain an employer with good terms and conditions, as we have always been. However, while there has been significant recent change in pay and pensions, there are other terms and conditions that have not been updated.

"We will address this and ensure a modern employment offer is available to all."

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