UK set for new wave of strikes as civil servants

UK set for a new wave of strikes as civil servants and train drivers vote for action – as it happened

Around, civil servants, working in multiple government agencies, have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

As Media reports, the Public and Commercial Services union PCS said the legal threshold for industrial action had been reached in separate areas, covering workers including driving test examiners, border force officials and Jobcentre staff.

It is demanding a % pay rise, job security and no changes to redundancy terms.

The PCS said that unless it received “substantial proposals” from the government, it would draw up plans at a meeting in November for a programme of industrial action.

The government must look at the huge vote for strike action across swathes of the civil service and realise it can no longer treat its workers with contempt.

Our members have spoken and if the government fails to listen to them, we’ll have no option but to launch a prolonged programme of industrial action reaching into every corner of public life.

Civil servants have willingly and diligently played a vital role in keeping the country running during the pandemic but enough is enough.

The stress of working in the civil service, under the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis, job cuts and office closures means they’ve reached the end of their tethers.

We are calling on the government to respond positively to our members’ demands. They have to give our members a % pay rise, job security, pensions justice and protected redundancy terms.

Rishi Sunak has been meeting Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, at the British-Irish Council gathering in Blackpool. See .am. This is from UTV’s Tracey Magee.

Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, has expressed concern about reports that Sunak will shelve Boris Johnson’s plan to impose a cap on social care costs. See .pm.

L-R: Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Hunt on screen, Mark Drakeford on screen, Michael Gove and Rishi Sunak holding a meeting in Blackpool, where the British Irish Council summit is being held. Photograph: Cameron Smith Images

João Vale de Almeida, the outgoing EU ambassador to the UK, has said the “mood music” between London and Brussels has improved under Rishi Sunak.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Vale de Almeida said that after Brexit, relations between Britain and the EU were particularly poor. He said:

We’ve had more summits with China than we have had with the UK. There have been none. That’s not normal. These people need to share their WhatsApp numbers.

The mood music has changed, and the melody is nicer but we still don’t have the words of a new British song.

The two sides are still at loggerheads over the future of the Northern Ireland protocol. Vale de Almeida said they were “not that far apart”, but he did not suggest that a deal was imminent. Describing the state of negotiations, he said:

There are always talks about talks and real talks — we are somewhere in between. We’re not that far apart. We need to focus now on the landing zone.

And Keir Starmer also said Matt Hancock should quit I’m a Celebrity and get back to Westminster. Speaking on his BBC Radio Humberside phone-in, Starmer said he felt “very strongly” about this. “Hancock should voluntarily leave and get back to parliament and do his job,” Starmer said. He went on:

It is not as if he is some great guy, anyway. This isn’t a guy who rolled up his sleeves and was a champion of the nation. His reputation was pretty bad before he even started on this.

Keir Starmer has said it was “inappropriate” for Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, to call Jeremy Corbyn “senile” in the Commons yesterday.

I’m not going to pretend that what Wes Streeting said wasn’t anything other than inappropriate. I know that; Wes Streeting knows that. He apologised. It was in jest, but Wes and I know that’s not good enough.

Starmer dismissed suggestions it should be a resignation matter. He said there was a “world of difference” between what Streeting said and the words of Gavin Williamson, the former minister, putting security at risk and telling an official to slit their throat.

Rishi Sunak visiting the Advanced Technology Centre at Fylde College in Blackpool before the British Irish Council summit. Photograph: Cameron Smith Images

Back to the proposed nurses’ strike, Ben Zaranko, an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank, has posted a thread on Twitter showing how nurses’ pay has been falling behind over the past decade.

Labour’s Kate Green has formally resigned as an MP, setting up a byelection in the safe seat of Stretford and Urmston. She will become deputy mayor of Greater Manchester, replacing Bev Hughes, who announced yesterday she is retiring.

Keir Starmer is wary of wholeheartedly backing unions that go on strike, on the grounds that Labour wants to be in government and that it’s the government’s job to resolve strikes, and not simply to side with the employees. But some Labour MPs are much more willing to back the workers.

Here are tweets from four Labour backbenchers, all on the left of the party, who are supporting the PCS strike.

A photo released by Downing Street of Rishi Sunak speaking to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, this morning. Photograph: No

The UK government has said it intends to minimise disruption to services if civil servants go ahead with their planned strike. Responding to the news the PCS members have voted for industrial action see .pm, a government spokesperson said:

As the public would expect, we have plans in place to keep essential services running and minimise any potential disruption if strikes do go ahead.

The public sector pay awards are a careful balance between delivering value for money for the taxpayer and recognising the importance of public sector workers.

The Scottish Labour party has blamed the decision by teachers in Scotland to vote for strike action see .pm on SNP mismanagement. Michael Marra, Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, said:

Years of SNP mismanagement and neglect are at the root of this decisive result.

Teachers have been going above and beyond to deliver the education recovery children and young people so badly need, and this should be recognised.

No one wants strikes in schools, but pupils and teachers alike are being failed by the SNP’s catastrophic lack of leadership.

The education secretary needs to get around the table with a fair deal for teachers and for schools before strike chaos hits.

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