Government waging ‘ideological war on civil servants’, says union leader

The leader of the biggest civil service union has accused the Government of waging an “ideological war” on its own workforce ahead of a national strike in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), said ministers were “bullying” civil servants.

His comments came as 133,000 PCS members in 132 government departments were preparing to walk out on Friday in the union’s third national stoppage since the dispute flared.

Mr Serwotka said: “When you look at how badly ministers treat their own staff, it’s impossible not to think this is an ideological war on civil servants.

General secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union Mark Serwotka speaks during a strike rally
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said members’ anger was growing (Yui Mok/PA)

“The evidence stacks up – ministers bullying their staff, giving our members the worst pay rise in the country, refusing to give them a back-dated pay claim or lump sum, like they’ve given everyone else, failing even to negotiate with us. So how else do you explain it?

“How else do you explain the incessant attacks by government ministers on their own workforce, if it’s not a point of principle?

“We were lauded throughout the pandemic, including by the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor, yet now we’re treated worse than anyone else, so it’s no wonder our members’ anger is growing.

“Ministers should be setting an example to employers, paying their own staff a fair wage, not leading the race to the bottom.”

The union said its campaign of industrial action showed no sign of abating, with its members on strike next week at the Passport Office, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Care Quality Commission.

The union last night announced a 15-day strike at HMRC in the same dispute.

The union added that its recent research showed that one in five DWP workers claimed benefits and one in 14 DWP offices had their own foodbanks.