Government services will come to a halt with public sector strike

'Extraordinary disruption' hit more than 120 government departments and public bodies

Britain is facing "tremendous disruption" at its borders and essential government services are ground to a halt if the planned public sector strike goes ahead.

About 100,000 civil servants at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union have voted to go on strike this winter in a dispute over salaries, which means disruption at major airports and ports like Dover, bottlenecks in issuing passports and driver's licenses, and potential delays in getting paid. . if the strike goes ahead.

It came as the government dismissed the Royal College of Nursing's request for a 17.6 percent pay increase as "absurd", after the union announced the first nationwide strike in its 106-year history on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak has been warned of the "winter strike chaos" and urged to intervene and order his ministers to negotiate on salaries, conditions and jobs.

Labor called on the government to stop "running away" from talks with union bosses, with strikes now looming across the NHS, the civil service, the transport sector, universities and the Royal Mail.

The Liberal Democrats said it was time for Sunak to hold a special "strike summit" with union heads in Downing Street, as well as calling on ministers to play a more active role in forging a deal.

Christine Jardine, spokeswoman for the Lib Dems Cabinet Office, told The Independent: "The UK appears to be moving from crisis to crisis, strike after strike, because there is a leadership vacuum in the government."

He added: “The chaos of the winter strike needs to be avoided and it starts with the government taking control of the situation. There should be a strike summit held at No 10 which will be chaired by the prime minister."

TUC Secretary General Frances O'Grady told The Independent that Sunak "should have negotiated with the unions to deal with the UK's emergency living expenses"

Ministers continue to point to the role of independent payroll review bodies in recommending pay increases - but O'Grady said it was ministers who ultimately made the decision to "withhold wages" for millions of public sector workers.

"If there is a massive strike over the next few months, only the government is to blame," the union leader said.

About 120,000 PCS union members in more than 120 government departments and public bodies voted for the strike on Thursday – including staff at the Department of Retirement Work (DWP) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Calling for a 10 percent pay increase in line with inflation, unions said that unless they received a "substantial proposal" from the government, they would announce a "continuous" strike program next Friday.

PCS Secretary General Mark Serwotka warned that the strike would be aimed at putting "maximum pressure" on the government and the PCS would also discuss coordinated action with other unions this winter.

Amid concerns about delays in benefits, he said striking DWP staff would do their best to avoid "disruptive" payments. "We certainly have no intention of being in a position to interfere with people who are on welfare who are getting paid," he said.

But he warned that strikes among staff at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could disrupt payments to farmers, while strikes by Cabinet Office officials could jeopardize government-wide "security checks and IT processes".

Asked by The Independent whether Sunak and ministers should step in to resolve the salary issue, Serwotka said: “The only way this can be resolved is if a political decision is made to loosen the wallet – there has to be ministerial involvement.”

The PCS leader said some low-paid civil servants were forced to turn to giving to avoid starvation – revealing that food banks have been set up in the Department of Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), GCHQ and other government offices.

“Poverty is everywhere in civil servants. The food bank for civil servants tells us that salaries are very low and urgent intervention from the government is needed,” he said.

At least 177 NHS organizations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be hit when nurses take picket lines following an unprecedented vote on action to pay more.

On Thursday, health secretary Steve Barclay held "friendly" talks with RCN secretary general Pat Cullen, but it is understood the health secretary refused to negotiate on salaries.

Cullen told The Independent: “Politicians have the power to stop this now and at any time. The prime minister should encourage ministers to hold detailed discussions – our door is open.”

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was vital to "bring the government to the negotiating table". Sir Keir told BBC Radio Humberside he supports nurses' "right" to strike, but refuses to commit to a raise above inflation if he is at No 10.

Aslef announced on Thursday that train drivers across 12 carriers would go on strike on November 26, threatening more travel chaos across the country. The union described it as a "last resort" and said it was still waiting for a suitable salary offer.

It came as commuters in London experienced travel chaos on Thursday, when nine of 11 tube lines were closed during a 24-hour strike by members of RMT and Unite on the London Underground.

Railways Minister Huw Merriman claimed on Thursday that the Sunak government had "changed the tone" on the rail strike that has devastated services in recent months.

Asked if he planned to hold talks with union leaders, Merriman told an industry conference that negotiations remained between Network Rail, carriers and unions, but added: "We stand ready to help in some way."

A widespread rail strike due to take place this week was called off by RMT, which said it would enter "intensive negotiations" with Network Rail, but warned it could take further action in the months ahead. This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.

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