The strike of 100,000 civil servants will begin next month after talks with the Government aimed at resolving a bitter dispute over wages, jobs and conditions were called “absolute bullshit”.
Cabinet Office Secretary Jeremy Quin met with union leaders to discuss the escalating industrial unrest after weeks of work stoppages across the country, including by Border Force personnel at Christmas.
The unions made it clear that more money should be offered to avoid further work stoppages.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Business Services union (PCS), said: “This meeting was a complete farce. Despite being well followed by the Government to resolve the crisis, it was nothing of the sort as the minister had nothing to offer.
“He didn’t deny that our members were offered less than anyone else, he didn’t deny that tens of thousands of our members were getting pay raises just because of the increase in the national minimum wage, but he refused to give us pay raises. now.
“To everything we told him, he still refused to compromise, saying he could only talk about 2023-24 even though he knew the alternative was continued industrial action.
“We will not stand by as our members are condemned to low wages.
“We tried to talk but it seems that the only option we have is to force them to change their minds and the only way we can do that is to speed up our strike action.
“As the Minister now refuses to help us, the one-day strike we announced yesterday will continue as promised on February 1st, and we will try to increase our action by calling more members for more strikes until the government listens to us. we.”
Dave Penman, secretary general of the FDA union, which represents senior officials, said the talks had been “candid” but “something concrete was missing” from the Government.
“We couldn’t be more clear,” he said, “if the government wants to resolve the disagreements they say they have, then something concrete needs to be put on the table, not just more ‘listening mode’ meetings.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Cabin Office Secretary Jeremy Quin met with representatives of the public service unions today to listen and understand their concerns. This forms part of the Government’s commitment to engage with trade unions at large.
“The meeting included discussions to help ensure fair and affordable payment agreements in the public sector.
“We regret PCS’ decision to issue further strikes, but discussions will continue and we have comprehensive plans to keep essential services up and running and to minimize disruptions.”
Mike Clancy, Prospect’s general secretary, said: “I asked the Secretary if the government plans to continue with real-time pay cuts for civil servants, as it has done for the past decade or more.
“The minister refused to offer more money for 2022/23 in his responses and gave no reason for optimism that the position will be different in the coming salary year.
“It is clear that civil servants are in the queue for public pay. At this point, we see no alternative but to continue our official vote for industrial action.
“As a union, our door is always open to meaningful talks, but that means there has to be more money on the table. Me and my colleagues have offered to clean up our diaries next week for negotiations with the minister if the Government is ready to change its position.”
Other talks have been held to try to resolve disputes on the NHS and rail amid the ongoing strikes that have caused disruption in parts of the country.
The meeting with Health Minister Steve Barclay was described as “constructive” by a doctors’ union leader.
Professor Philip Banfield, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) council, told reporters: “It went as we expected. We went to the meeting to discuss the payroll review body and came out of the meeting by laying out our stops and making the position of the NHS very clear. address full-fee restoration.
When asked about calls to return to 2008 wage levels, which would be a 26% increase, he said: “There’s a lot to lose from your 26% salary, so even though it’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of money to lose well.
“We have young doctors right now who are really struggling financially as they qualify with a £100,000 debt.
“What was constructive today was the willingness to listen and enter the room and discuss what fee restoration might look like.”
Officials from the Railway Delivery Group met with the Railway, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the Transport Salary Staff Association to end the dead-end railway dispute.
Transport Minister Mark Harper confirmed that a “renewed proposal” was on the table ahead of negotiations, raising hopes for a breakthrough “within days”.
The unions have made it clear that they need a new offer on wages, jobs and conditions before the dispute is settled.
After meeting Thursday at FirstGroup offices in Paddington, London, the RMT union said it was working on a “revised proposal” with Rail Delivery Group.
The union said: “We have had detailed discussions and are working jointly on a revised proposal.
“Both sides agreed to continue talks over the next few days.”
Later on Thursday, the University and College Association (UCU) announced that more than 70,000 staff at 150 universities in the UK will go on strike for 18 days between February and March over disagreements over salaries, conditions and pensions.
The University and College Association (UCU) said the exact dates for the action will be confirmed next week.
Meanwhile, nine out of 10 members of the NASUWT teachers’ union in England and Wales voted to strike instead of pay – but turnout was below the legal threshold at 42%.
The union said it was in disagreement with the Government, despite failing to achieve the 50% vote turnout required by law.
Elsewhere, workers on London’s Elizabeth line went on strike, while bus workers in the capital’s Abellio went on strike.