Unions threaten to strike over plans to cut 90,000 public sector jobs

A union has warned the plan to cut 91,000 public sector jobs could exacerbate passport delays

Union leaders are set to meet government officials next week amid ongoing anger over the prime minister’s plan to ax tens of thousands of public sector jobs.

Officials at the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) warn that delays in issuing passports and driving licenses will worsen as staff are cut.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Head of Civil Service Simon Case (left)

What is the Public and Commercial Services Union?

The PCS is the sixth largest union in the UK, with the vast majority of its members working in government departments or other public bodies in the UK.

It has around 200,000 members, although it is not yet clear how many members would go on strike in an election.

In recent years there have been several incidents of strike action involving PCS members.

In 2016, cleaners at HRMC went on strike when their outsourced employer said they could not support the nationwide living wage.

In 2021, following a deadly outbreak of Covid-19 at the DVLA offices, members went on strike for several days over the lack of proper health and safety protection.

What are the plans to cut public service jobs?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on May 12 announced plans to cut 91,000 public sector jobs over the next three years.

Johnson hopes the move would save £3.5billion and help ease the cost of living crisis.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 civil servants retire each year and therefore part of the reduction could be achieved by limiting recruitment.

Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledged that redundancies may be necessary

However, Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg explained that redundancies may also be needed to meet the reduction target.

There are just over 475,000 civil servants in the UK, so a cut of 91,000 would mean a reduction of almost a fifth.

What did the union say about the planned job cuts?

The union has warned of strikes in response to Boris Johnson’s plans to cut 91,000 public sector jobs.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members are in shock. That they first heard about these cuts when they were announced in the media tells you everything you need to know about what the government thinks of officials.

“Our members, the heroes who have been lauded by the government for risking their lives to keep the country running during the pandemic, are now being told their jobs are at risk.

“Our national conference in 10 days will debate coordinated strike action. If our members weren’t angry before, they are now, and rightly so.

“Cutbacks will only make things worse, which lengthen waiting lists for passport and driver’s license seekers, which lengthen phone queues for those with tax questions.

“We will fight for every post in the public service. Not just on behalf of our members, but on behalf of all members of the public who rely on the services they provide.”

When will talks with the government take place?

The PCS will hold talks with government officials early next week and there will also be an emergency meeting of their executive branch to discuss their response to the job losses. Unions threaten to strike over plans to cut 90,000 public sector jobs


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