Civil servants on the path to future leadership roles in Whitehall have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.
Members of the FDA union in the Civil Service Fast Stream backed strike action, accusing ministers of “empty promises” over pay reform.
On a turnout of 60%, some 88% of Fast Stream members voted to strike and the FDA will announce the date of the first walkout if further negotiations are unsuccessful.
FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “The Civil Service Fast Stream attracts some of the brightest graduates in the country, many of whom will go on to lead the service, advising ministers and prime ministers.
“Yet they have today voted to take strike action over pay for the first time in their history.”
He said that while the dispute over pay has been exacerbated by the global cost-of-living squeeze, “its origins are home-grown”.
“We have been urging the Cabinet Office for years to address low pay in the Fast Stream, but there has been an abject failure to embrace meaningful reform,” he said.
“Instead, for far too long, the dedication and commitment of fast streamers has been exploited.”
FDA national officer for the Fast Stream Lauren Crowley said: “This result highlights the anger that our members are feeling, they are tired of empty promises when it comes to pay reform.
“I urge the employer to reflect on how it has allowed this to happen and take action now to ensure a fair deal for fast streamers.”
The FDA has called for an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Office to resolve the dispute, she said.
“Even at this late stage we remain willing to negotiate, but negotiations must be based on a meaningful offer on pay.
“If the Cabinet Office fails to do this, we will announce dates for strike action.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We greatly value the work of fast streamers in the Civil Service and we are reviewing their pay terms as we have previously committed to. This work is ongoing.
“We regret this decision to strike, but discussions will continue as part of our ongoing engagement with unions.”