UK civil servants strike

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 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 per cent of civil servants – took part in the earlier action.

Minister for the Cabinet Office
Tessa Jowell said “at least 70 per cent of union 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 union members and civil servants will be largely unaffected by the
new terms. In fact, nearly all civil servants who earn $30,000 or less – almost
half the entire workforce – will see little or no change.”

The union 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 $744 million anyone earning $45,000 or less
will be entitled to a maximum of three years’ pay or $89,000 whichever is

Those earning $45,000 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 $36,000 a year could
lose $30,000 as a result of new caps.