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Are civil servants right to strike?

09:01 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

Up to 270,000 civil servants are taking part in a 48-hour strike over redundancy pay, in what is the biggest unrest by the sector in more than two decades. Have you been affected?

Courts, ports, job and tax centres and emergency police call centres are being hit by the walkout by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union.

The union says civil servants will lose up to a third of their entitlements, worth thousands of pounds. The government said other civil service unions agreed the changes were fair.

Are you a civil servant? Have you been affected by the strike? Are the changes to redundancy pay fair?

<strong>This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.</strong>



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  • Comment number 1.

    Fine — move on

  • Comment number 2.

    I have been made redundent several times in the last 40 years. I have only ever once had more than the statutory minimum, and even then the extra was less than that.

    There is no public support for this. The general public know that the benefits that civil servants get far outway the consequences of redundency.

    Remember Michael Heseltine? He asked the civil service what would happen if he cut department numbers by 5%, he was told there would be chaos. What if I cut it by 10%, anarchy, he cut the numbers by 25% and nothing happened.

  • Comment number 3.

    I was made redundant a few years ago; all I got was the Statutory Redundancy payment, which is not very much. But legally, that's all my employer had to pay, so that's what they paid. And what could I do about that ? Nothing at all.

    Anything over and above that amount should be seen as good fortune, and should not be expected. But then, of course, we are dealing with the public sector here, who expect the tax payer to fund them, even when they lose their jobs.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello people.

    Before there is a torrent of abuse aimed at us civil servants let me just put our case.
    Some of us have been in our jobs for anything up to 43 years and whilst we are all going to benefit hugely by our very fair pensions when we retire we have a lot to contend with.
    Only three years ago I put in a requisition for a new stapler and it took four days to arrive! In the meantime I was forced to borrow from colleagues which as you can imagine put a strain on an otherwise professional relationship.
    I am perfectly well aware that times are hard now for people in the private sector but Mary used to bring a choice of biscuits at both 10:50 AND 3:20. Now we only get a choice in the morning. In the afternoon we are no longer offered Rich Tea.
    So now, not to be offered a 10% pay rise this year is going to hit us when we already feel that morale is very low.

  • Comment number 5.

    If they have a genuine and legitimate grievance, and have tried and failed at all other reasonable means of negotiation then yes they should strike. It should be a last resort though.

  • Comment number 6.

    When the private sector, whose taxes and economic activity funds the public sector, are freezing or reducing salaries, are laying people off with basic or no redundancy pay, and are closing or restricting pension schemes with a lifetime loss to employees of hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases, then the public sector don't have that much to complain about.

    The public sector need to realise that they are on borrowed time and that whoever wins the next election they will be finding that what has become normal in the private sector over the past 20 years or so will be something they have to get used to.

    Fat and overhead in the system must get cut out, layers of management reduced, cushy expense policies and, above all, final salary index linked pension schemes will have to close. The country simply cannot afford this anymore.

  • Comment number 7.

    This makes my blood boil. As a private sector worker, I have had my pay frozen for the past 2 years, with the very real probability of a third come next month. I know if I am made redundant, I will get the statutory minimum only. Friends and colleagues have had pay cuts, detrimental changes to their terms and conditions, and many have been made redundant with little notice or compensation. This is the real world. Why should the public sector be a special case?

  • Comment number 8.

    In spite of the usual suspects dismissing their cases, over a quarter of a million ordinary people just like them, will be withdrawing their labour. Most are facing redundancy without a handshake gold, nickel or scrap metal, a future without a job, for no other reason than our private sector banks blew it.

    There is a less than subtle irony that the public sector must bear the greatest losses from private sector extravagance. So the banks are more important than anything else in society - is that it?

  • Comment number 9.

    Ive been with my present employer for 31 years, and if I'm made redundant I'll get the legal minimum, with all payments capped. I'd be lucky to leave with more than 6 months pay, so excuse me if I can't get too worked up because my counterparts in the public sector will 'only' get 2 years pay.

  • Comment number 10.

    If I went on strike over pay or conditions in the private sector, I'd be out of a job faster than I could walk out of the buidling.

    Why should the public sector be any different?

  • Comment number 11.

    If you're a public servant and you're made redundant, just be grateful of any money you should get from your employers; we the taxpayers!

  • Comment number 12.

    Go on strike if you like; we probably won't even notice. Once you're not there I'm sure it will be obvious that we don't need quite so many overpaid admin clerks, then most of you can be made redundant with only the minimum statutory redundancy pay.

    Public services are stuffed with far too many staff who get well-paid to do very little - get rid of them!

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm afraid I don't agree with strikingin any situation if you are not happy in a job then I believe you should leave. I am just a care worker for the NHS I work with children with challenging behaviours and associated health needs and my own job is far from secure at the moment.
    I love my job and have been in this line of work for 13 years now and would never choose to do any other type of work, being 46 finding other employment would be hard.I know how scary it is to be threatened with being out of work but I never feel that causing unrest for everyone else can be justified.I think the days of job security vanished for ever in the 1980s when Thatcher came to power and since then the world has had to move on.
    In the 1980s I was a plasterer and self employed but the building trade was at rock bottom tradesmen were having to go abroad to find employment (remember Aufweidersein pet) along with all the other industries that Thatchers government destroyed, after having to fold my little bussiness I was left with no alternative than to retrain and thats what I had to do.

  • Comment number 14.

    Five out of six unions support the changes, the strikers are just being awkward and greedy, striking after a very low ballot. Their motives seem to be to cause as much disruption to the public as possible. They should accept that their benefits are far better than majority of people in private sector and get back to work.

  • Comment number 15.

    They are moaning because of a cap? This should not be a problem unless they are either overpaid or have been in the job too long. Either way, it's a good place to make a cutback.

    In other areas of being a "public servant" the cap is already in place at 2 years pay, and we've got people queueing up for redundancy on those terms! I guess there must be a lot of staff who have around 24 years of service, thus qualifying for that cap.

    Meanwhile, further savings can be made on the payroll by not paying strikers. Strikes do not work in this country, any more than being a suicide bomber gets you into heaven. The scary thing as always, is there are a large number of people who think otherwise in the case of both examples.

  • Comment number 16.

    BBThee, No 4, I hadn't realised that the choice of biscuits in the afternoon had been cut, no wonder that so many civil servants are upset! And having to wait four days for a new stapler, just how did you cope?

  • Comment number 17.

    Striking because its Redundancy is going to be capped at £60,000!!!!! The majority of us can get only a week for every year they work, upto 40 years old, and then it goes to 1.5 x salary. This is of course capped to £380 a week. Which means that if you work for 105 years over the age of 40, the rest of us will reach £60,000. Please can these (un)civil servants think about their totally unethical stance!

  • Comment number 18.

    Final salary pension schemes, increases in salary every year (with few exceptions), working hours that those in the private sector have no chance of having to work and all paid for by us the taxpayer.

    It's time they joined the real world. They work for the people of this country, try getting one to do something for you.

  • Comment number 19.

    As a civil servant my years of service would mean that I would benefit from the proposed changed agreement, nevertheless I voted in favour of a strike as I do not believe that any employer has the right to change a formal agreement without the agreement of all parties. Tessa Jowell says that those in favour of a strike represent only about 20% of union members, she should rememember that Labour's share of the vote in the 2005 General Election was only 22% of the electorate.

  • Comment number 20.

    They are right to feel aggrieved as they are being made scapegoats in all this. People that work in the public sector have chosen to accept lower pay and prospects in return for the satisfaction of doing some public good. And yet when the economy is wrecked by the irresponsibility of provate sector bankers it is the publis servants that are expected to lose their jobs or accept pay cuts or freezes. Ultimately a decimated public service will hurt us all.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yet again the profligacy that exists in the public sector is unmasked. We are repeatedly told that employment conditions have to match the private sector to 'attract the right calibre of person'. Ignoring for the moment that doing so has attracted the calibre of person that has got the country into the mess it is in, I worked for 40 years in manufacturing industry and during that time witnessed several recessions, trading slumps and general reductions in economic activity but never saw redundancy terms of more than 2 weeks per year of service. This was extremely rare - the norm in almost all cases was 1 week redundancy and statutory pay in lieu of notice where applicable. Any government imposed maximum was observed. The public sector is a money pit and is ripe for reform. Isn't it strange that we hear the unions continually complaining about 'fat cats in industry' but never a peep about council leaders salaries and the cost of the civil service. It couldn't be because they are all in a trade union could it?

  • Comment number 22.

    Definitely agree with post#4 @ 0947am 08 March.

    In such difficult times, we all need, including striking civil servants, more of this amusing irony?

  • Comment number 23.

    Working for the NHS for over 30 years I see no problem with redundancy being capped at 2 year service as that is what we have and I think it is generous compared to the private sector. I was not aware that this was capped at £60K - not that it would affect me - but even that seems reasonable.
    Bearing in mind that a good percentage of those who have served for over 24 years may also be eligible for early retirement I can see this really only affecting the overpaid sections of the Civil Service (rather than those who do the actual work) so I wonder how it has been explained to to the general workers for them to vote to strike.
    Whilst in general I support worker action and think too many workers' rights have been eroded I think this case is an example of why Govs have managed to get the voters' mandate to chisel away at those rights. So in this case I do not support the strike and think they are asking for far too much.

  • Comment number 24.

    Further from #17 If you earn more than £19760, we all get paid the same!

  • Comment number 25.

    I think civil servants should do what I and others have always had to do - if you don't like your pay & conditions, move on & get another job. Why are they so special? Probably because they are in a union which donates money to the Labour party. You could cut 20% of cost out of the public sector easily just by removing waste and civil service & other non jobs. The good ones will find other jobs, the poorer ones will sit & watch daytime TV. At least it means the taxpayer is only paying them £5k each to do nothing, rather than go to 'work' & be paid £18k - £20k for doing nothing.

  • Comment number 26.

    My wife is an NHS nurse she would need to have had 75 YEARS continuous service to have the same redundancy terms as currently available .

    This move only brings Civil Servants closer in line to other public sector workers terms and conditions,the new conditions,the ones they are striking over,are STILL more generous than for any other Public Sector Employees outside of the Military.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have no problem with them striking - its their right and no doubt their management is probably doing their best to encourage this.

    I do wish I had a private company with lots of the employees who write in to this (on their own time no doubt) to complain about these people striking when the management unilaterally tries to change their employment contracts.
    If I ran a company with such malleable employees I'd be the richest man in the country.

  • Comment number 28.

    PLEASE, please, will MPs strike too!

    No, silly me, they don't need to, do they??

  • Comment number 29.

    The public have the same respect for civil servant managers as they have for politicians and bankers. The ordinary worker at the lowest end of the scale are being manipulated by their supervisors and managers to go on strike. If 50% of the bloated management grades were made redundant all departments would still run as normal. Time to get rid of half of the "Non Jobs" money wasting management grades.

  • Comment number 30.

    When the private sector, whose taxes and economic activity funds the public sector, are freezing or reducing salaries, are laying people off with basic or no redundancy pay, and are closing or restricting pension schemes with a lifetime loss to employees of hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases, then the public sector don't have that much to complain about.

    Don't confuse civil servants with the rest of the Public Sector
    Nurses,Teachers,Police Officers local authority employees etc do not have remotely as generous terms and conditions as those on Civil Service grades ,for 80% of the public sector terms and conditions are no better, often worse than in the private sector.

  • Comment number 31.

    I feel that the civil servants should strike as they cannot really take the Government to court over breach of contract (or can they). The Government had an agreement with these employees and is now breaking it. The Goverment could change its terms and conditions for new staff.

  • Comment number 32.

    I am a Public Servant, and have been for 20 years. I worked in the Private Sector and have been made redundant. I am like 95% of other Public Servants who will reveive a pension when I retire (not the generous handout that always gets reported for the other 5%, but one that will help, not secure, my retirement). Oh, and I wouldn't be getting the kind of payout the BBC and other media have been reporting either.

    This action is about the fact that the Government has seen fit to 'change the goalposts' and remove the agreed package at a time when redundancies are a real cause for concern. And to all of those of you who criticise and belittle public work, how would you like it if your bosses turned to you and said 'we know we promised you this, but we're taking it away!' Be honest.

    And BBC, be fair and start representing the majority for a change and start balancing your reporting.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why not they are being stitched up as everyone else is

  • Comment number 34.

    I was made redundant last December. The only reason that I have more than the statutory minimum payment is due to hard bargaining with the employer's solicitors to gain a settlement - but due to said employer's actions I would have had a good case at tribunal... with considerable negative publicity for the employer. So they paid rather than be taken to the employment tribunal.

    However if a contract of employment - rather than custom - dictates more than the statutory payout on redundancy, then it cannot be changed without employee agreement. Or else it's tribunal time!

  • Comment number 35.

    Ok so the Civil Servants want to go on strike and withhold their labour do they? They haven't thought this through very well have they?

    Lets examine the logical nature of this conundrum!

    Firstly, civil servants are suppose to provide a public service, they are funded by the public. It is the public's money which pays their salaries and benefits. Well, they are also members of the public, they pay taxes and use the services they as 'civil servants' provide. So in striking, they are essentially on strike against themselves! They are withholding their labour from the functions and services, which as members of the public they use.

    Also, they pay taxes which provide their salaries - so they are essentially, by striking not going to 'pay' themselves while they are not working! genius!

    And, looking at the wider social context - when a private sector business has to deal with the consequence of strike action by its employees it loses money, it is unable to generate profit and this obviously has a negative impact on the business.

    However here we have civil servant proposing to strike in the 'public sector'! When this happens, the services and functions they provide will stop. but unlike a private sector business, the public sector, by it very nature, always costs us all money when it is functioning normally in providing services. So, folks (you lovely civil servant) by going on strike you will be effectively saving the public loads of cash!

    Thanks a lot guys and girls - personally, I would be happy if you chose to strike indefinitely - the public (taxpayers) will save a fortune!

    What a brilliant strategy - And you civil servants are supposed to be intelligent - Ha

  • Comment number 36.

    usual torrent of abuse that effectively boils down to "I don't get it, so no-one else should".

    We have civil servants whose pay has to be raised to bring it above the minimum wage, we have civil servants receiving benefits, and we have civil servants doing important jobs knowing that if they're off unexpectedly entire systems will close down, such have been the success of "fat-trimming".

    As usual, the govt compares its employess with the worst in the private sector, not the best, and as usual exploits envy between workers who really ought to consider the benefits that the top layers of management in industry, finance and the civil service get.

    And yes, I am a civil servant, who has served the country well for more than thirty years despite being shafted by every government and every sefl-serving senior civil servant!

  • Comment number 37.

    I do wish that people would be a little more careful what they wish for. Don't forget that when you talk about the public sector being so bad you are also talking about Police and NHS if you really want to go down the road of privatising the NHS then Vote Tory at the next election and see how great your health service is then (if you're fortunate enough to be able to pay for it that is)
    As I mentioned in an earlier comment #13 I do not agree with strikes at any level of for any reason.I have worked in the private sector I was also self employed and now work for the NHS and could maybe get an equal job to the one I do now and with a lot more money too in the private sector, but having worked in the private sector for two different firms in the care field,in my opinion the level of trainig and expertise is rubbish in comparrison to the NHS.That will always be the case where making a profit comes over quality of care.

  • Comment number 38.

    Civil servants should be aware the reforms on offer are still very good
    Private sector workers make do with meagre pensions {self financed},poor
    working conditions,and job security now at a very low ebb.
    Thes same people are expected to fund a bloated public sector workforce
    which is now acting like a greedy child,always wanting more.
    Welcome to the real world!

  • Comment number 39.

    I support the civil servants in their strike because a contract should be honoured. It seems there is, as usual, one rule for the ordinary folk and one rule for the failed bankers who walk away with huge settlements because its in their contract.

  • Comment number 40.

    This makes me SO angry!
    I'm being made redundant from my private sector job later this year. I'll get statutory minimum redundancy, if I'm lucky.
    The majority proportion of the tax pot comes from the private sector, yet these leeches are striking because they think they're entitled to more?
    When will they get the message - *we do not owe them a living!!!!*

  • Comment number 41.

    Most people in the private sector get the statutory minimum redundancy pay, why should the public sector be any different, we are already in huge debt because of out of control public spending.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am self-employed and get absolutely NOTHING if parents decide they cannot afford the childcare I offer so stop bleating. Its a good job I don't rely on this money completely as I would be in constant debt.

    Civil servants you have it so easy, believe me.

  • Comment number 43.

    Civil servants are lucky to have their non-jobs. On a day when two teenage soldiers have needlessly lost their lives we have our poor darling union and government protected pen pushers threatening to withdraw their services. Maybe if they hadn't pushed the UK to the brink of being wrapped in red tape we wouldn't even notice if they went on strike. Jobs for luvvies and Labour will never win public approval so they have to intimidate with procedure and paper instead. Let them strike and so prove the UK can cope without them.

  • Comment number 44.

    Daisy Chained wrote:
    "..a future without a job, for no other reason than our private sector banks blew it. There is a less than subtle irony that the public sector must bear the greatest losses from private sector extravagance. "

    I'm afraid you are wrong. In the private sector, if a company hits hard times (maybe no fault of its own) or is badly run, jobs will go. Your boss is this govt & Gordon Brown. Brown has run his business (the public sector) extremely badly - despite record tax receipts he was borrowing in a global boom in order to spend wildly & unsustainably. This means Brown's business, the public sector, would have hit the buffers anyway. The bank crisis merely brought it forward. Even Darling's pre budget report in December said only about a quarter of the deficit was due to the banks - three-quarters was due to the ongoing structural public spending imbalance which was created on Brown's watch.
    So, to sum up:
    You are in a 'business' - the public sector.
    That business increased its cost base recklessly when credit was cheap, without taking the care to ensure its revenues (taxes) covered the costs even in good times.
    That business is now failing due to chronic mismanagement. Its revenues have fallen, the gap is being filled by unsustainable & increaingly expensive borrowing.
    As in any failing business, the cost base must now be rationalised. Hence the situation you are in.
    Welcome to the real world.

  • Comment number 45.

    I note that there has been little comment on the many thousands of jobs that have already been cut from the civil services since 2004. Most of these cuts have attacked front line staff; most of the efficiencies have seen increased productivity from front line staff; many "new" recruits have fixed term contracts and no prospect of redundancy pay; many staff are from agencies, are temporary and have no special rights.

    The public services are undeniably inefficient but that inefficiency is in management who are paid excessive salaries, private consultancies and contractors who do not deliver VFM, and processes that are designed to "hit" targets rather than deliver customer service.

    Every job cut is going to cost the UK economy much more to fund through benefit than it ever will through redundancy. We actually need more jobs in the UK, not less.

  • Comment number 46.

    "20. At 10:08am on 08 Mar 2010, Albert wrote:
    They are right to feel aggrieved as they are being made scapegoats in all this. People that work in the public sector have chosen to accept lower pay and prospects in return for the satisfaction of doing some public good. And yet when the economy is wrecked by the irresponsibility of provate sector bankers it is the publis servants that are expected to lose their jobs or accept pay cuts or freezes. Ultimately a decimated public service will hurt us all."

    What rubbish. Millions of private sector employees (the vast majority of whom are NOT bankers!) have already lost their jobs. Public sector workers have not 'chosen' to lower pay (because they don't get paid less, particularly when you account for hours worked and benefits), prospects are good (promotion largely based on time served rather than competency) and as for 'doing some public good' I have never heard such rubbish.

    Public sector staff do do a valuable job, but they are no more important than the private sector employees who work longer hours for less security. I'm afraid it is time to wake up and join the real (and less pleasant, world).

  • Comment number 47.

    As a civil servant myself who is currently on strike I get so annoyed by single minded people who comlain about how they get treated badly so it should be the same for all. Get unionised, stand together, fight for whats right and fair. The strike is about the Government tearing up my terms and replacing them with something worse. These terms were given to us by maggie thatcher who said it was fair because civil servants get less pay than they should for the type of work they are doing. Yes the private sector have not had a pay rise for a couple of years.....guess what I have not had one since 2006. We need to remember the difference between civil and public workers. Public workers i.e. police, doctors etc have had generous pay rises under the labour gov, civil servants have could say civil servants have paid for the rise of the doctors etc as this was the only way the Government could afford it. I will fight to the end for this and support my union all the way you should also support us.

  • Comment number 48.

    erm! Well that's face it, the Public Sector has been allowed to run a mock of our systems and the Public Sector has not kept in line with the Private Sector by any means. Whilst thousands have lost such luxuries as redundancy settlements, many expenses and even had to reduce salaries. However the Public Sector has in real terms received higher rates of pay packages, so we are in an economy that pays Billions to support on the most part unjustifiable Public Sector positions.

    We need higher productivity and less waste, get rid of those surplus to requirements some 250,000 if not more.

  • Comment number 49.

    Read again, the BBC article this HYS question relates to.

    It's extraordinary the redundancy package civil servants get? While in service, majority of civil servants have amazing private health packages too.

    Examine further what all the civil service union executives get in pay and benefits too?

    It's difficult to find how good are the terms of any job as a civil servant are?

  • Comment number 50.

    At number 25 - get your facts right, PCS does not give money to the Labour party and does not support any political party. Its narrow minded comments like that which give the majority the wrong impression.

  • Comment number 51.

    There seems to be a lot of people here under the impression that public sector workers are overpaid and have an easy life. This is something of a paradox: If working in the public sector is so much better than the private sector, then public sector employers would be attracting all the best and brightest people in the job market – and therefore justifying the best pay and conditions. If, however, the public sector is not such an easy ride, then most of the comments on here are just plain wrong.

  • Comment number 52.

    I am afraid that people working in the public sector need a dose of reality. Salaries and benefits in the private sector have been cut or frozen across the board and the fact that people work in the public sector should not make them immune form the need to fall into line with the general economic climate.

    The next government needs to reduce the size if the public service both in terms of what is spent and how many staff are really needed. However, whether this will happen or not I am not sure. There was an interesting article in the Times on Sunday about how it is almost impossible to take someone out from the civil service.

    If your role is not needed or you are underperforming then there should be consequences, whichever the sector in which you work. Government costs money, it should be reduced.

  • Comment number 53.

    How are we going to notice this? But seriously, there's bloat, overmanning, high pay (for some), low productivity and expensive/bad decisions (defence, computer systems just two examples) in many areas. The current crisis is an opportunity for fashioning something much better.

    I'll declare interest, my aunt was a 40 year career civil servant and my grandfather a senior customs person, I'm for an efficient, well-paid, responsive, cost-effective civil service. But we don't have that, do we?

  • Comment number 54.

    How often have we had really petty rules and laws quoted to us when a bit of flexibility was required? So do I have sympathy? No. At least they're getting more than statutary. It's not nice out here. Welcome to the real world.

  • Comment number 55.

    Perhaps civil servants might like to use their strike time to reflect on how hard the rules and regulations that they so cheerfully enforce make life difficult for self-employed people who arrive at 60/65 with no pension worth living on, and so have to carry on working in order to survive despite a lifetime of paying taxes to pay the wages of said civil servants. Perhaps civil servants should investigate the term "Pyrrhic Victory" and relate this concept to loss of public support.

  • Comment number 56.

    4. At 09:47am on 08 Mar 2010, BBThee - were did it go?

    I cannot believe the moderator removed this highly amusing comment! Which examined that great civil service tradition of providing employment for tea ladies and keeping the biscuit industry in business. Whats so wrong with offering public sector employees copious amounts of tea and unlimited varieties of biscuits in publicly funded offices up and down the country? And, its Ok BBC, we are all adults - we understand the needs of our over worked civil servants and their managements desire to motivate!

    Come on BBC - fair play - I know you must be careful and impartial etc but removing BBthee's comment just because its too close to the truth is just un-British.

    I've seen the tea trolley trundling along the corridors of public sector institutions many times and there's always a vast selection of biscuits on offer! Yummy!

  • Comment number 57.

    I think that the civil servants have been spoiled for far too long. They have to remember that they are over staffed in the first place so that Labour could reduce unemployment figures and they are also paid by us, the tax payer. As the country is in serious debt because our government over borrowed and sold our gold for next to nothing, and I think that it shows better faith making their redundancy packages smaller. It is our money paying for it. I think at the moment it is over generous what they are paid. If they lived in the real world and worked for a commercial company, most people get statutory redundancy, one week for every year worked. And you civil servants out there, it is a load of rubbish saying that you now are getting less than what you ever expected, you never expected 20 years ago to be made redundant did you? Or were you counting on it? Also, I think that it should be illegal for emergency staff to go on strike.

  • Comment number 58.

    This action is typical of those who want more - a bit like spoilt children.

    They might not get such lucrative pay packets and they are not as educated or intelligent generally, but they are pampered with all the protection needed at the expense of the taxpayer.

    Come on civil servants - stop trying to get more than you deserve and looking for excuses to get preference.

    People who get too much are never satisfied - and that is good because they aren’t happy either which they have caused theirselves out of selfishness and greed.

    If they earned what they got and were proud of it they would be happy.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Yes they should strike as indeed anyone should if they have a genuine reason.
    They like most of us have been made to pay for the failure of the banking system, they have had there tax money used to bail the banks, they like us have had endless price rises in the cost of living, and they like the rest of us face an uncertain future on the jobs front.
    So hell yes they should strike as we should all do in protest at the double standard's we see day in and day out, why should they pay like us for the state of the economy when its the banks who should pay NOT us.

  • Comment number 61.

    This was always going to happen.Most civil servants earn less than the average wage.Only a few of the millions earn big bucks.They are on to a loser though because whoever wins the election will slash jobs in the public sector and as the top jobs are always safe its the grunts who get it in the neck.Just remember many civil servants are not allowed to strike.As a carer I was never allowed to take industrial action and classified as an essential service at the lowest wage the council could get away with.Not all public sector workers are a waste of space.If anyone has to go its the numerous layers of non productive management who cost the tax payer a fortune-yes and that also includes much of the dead wood in the MOD,Whitehall,NHS and every council in the country.The lowest paid workers who give good value service to the public for little recognition should all be kept on and given more responsibility-sack the rest!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    They have the right to strike if they so choose and follow the correct procedures.

    Whether the public is sympathetic or not is another matter.

    As we all know, with the state of the public finances, this is likely to be the start of many disgruntled workers taking action, once cuts start to bite.

  • Comment number 63.

    Can I ask the many many people who work in the private sector who are extremely hostile to this whether they would be happy if their employer rewrote their contracts without asking them?

    Or are public workers not eligable for the same employment rights as private workers?

  • Comment number 64.

    At 49 - Are you on this planet....since when did civil servants get private health care given to them. The problem with this country is not civil servants but the single minded private sector workers who cant stand together and fight for what is right.

  • Comment number 65.

    To all those in the private sector who have screwed up the economy, who have taken the big bonuses when the going was good, who have benefitted from the low tax culture that this country has become, you have probably taken more than the public service. I have been a public servant for 25 years, already the pay isn't fantastic, and except for promotions, I have never had a pay rise of more than 2%, ever, under any government, but most the pay was frozen for years under Tories. Two year pay freezes, possibly a third I read you bleating about, have a career long pay freeze, always below inflation, if we got one at all, no bonus, no car, share options, jeez, not even subsidised canteens anymore, I know they've got those on the private sectore still.

    Now that we're all about to get the push, to make you all feel better and free up more money to bail out incompetent bankers and the like, let us at least have the dignity of losing even more money whilst we strike and try to get the best for our (not too bright) future.

    Private Sector Workers, you can't spell it.

  • Comment number 66.

    After any post-strike agreement has been reached, somebody will sit down, do the maths, and calculate how many public servants will fail to be recruited in order to reduce both the cost of implementing the agreement and the number of people who will be entitled to it.

    It's happened before. When will people ever learn? There is no equality in the labour market - never has been since the Industrial Revolution.

  • Comment number 67.

    To add to my previous post (#32), I am amazed, but not surprised, that so many people are misinformed. I will expand. I work for the Police Service BUT I am not a Police Officer (You may not have heard of us, but we get made redundant because of cuts and more Police Officers end up working behind desks as a result - FACT). I do not receive private healthcare, bonusses, overtime or any other monetary reward. I pay tax, national insurance, my prescription fees, dental fees, a mortgage, all my bills, send a child to school and so on. I get no help with any of this.

    Where are my perks? I don't get any.

    Oh, you mean the pension? Oh yes, as I previously stated, this will be nice, but to be fair, in common with the majority of both Public and Private Sector workers, I will have to continue working until I drop. No golden handshakem, so sorry if I have shattered your illusions.

    Sorry to disappoint you all who are knocking us, but I am like the VAST MAJORITY of people in this country. And I have the right, like everyone else, to voice my disapproval to a Government that is hell bent on doing what they want.

  • Comment number 68.

    Ok I forgive the moderator - comment number 4 has now been re-instated - Bravo to the moderator for showing compassion and impartially in the face of adversity and the Civil service censors!!! Well done that man/woman! We applaud your indefatigability!

  • Comment number 69.

    I am sick and tired of those who work in the private sector having a holier than though attitude to what public servants do. I am also fed up of those in the private sector saying that, as a taxpayer, they are my employer. Well I pay tax and national insurance etc so I am also my own employer. Furthermore, with my monthly wages, I buy goods and services. By your logic, that makes me your employer. Many civil servants have historically been paid less for comparable jobs. Many in the private sector, when asked if they would do a similar job in the public sector, say no as it doesn't pay enough. You can't have your cake and eat it!

  • Comment number 70.

    Having been a 'civil servant' for the past 22 years, I can see both sides to the pay & grading issues involved here. Firstly, theres a lot of pressure from higher up the ladder to make working conditions as pressurised as possible so that people lower down the pay scale are forced to resign without benefits of any kind, or to take long term sick etc. Secondly, the better established and higher paid staff deliberately conspire to promote themselves and reward themselves with better staff reports, & bonuses which means that when their particular agency or department wants to waste staff through redundancies these creme de la creme time-wasters are the firrst in line for major cash payouts. So I feel the UK tax payer would get better value for money if the govt. limited payouts to reflect this sad state of afffairs.

  • Comment number 71.

    I have experience of working with council as I am a consultant.

    Do I get the same the rights to strike? NO
    Do I get the same pension? NO
    Do I get extended redundancy pay? NO

    There is a reason why I don't get those benefits because there non sustainable.

    The council workers are the worst workers in the country and should be ashamed of their attitudes. When millions are being made redundant they live on this gravy train where inefficiency is the only thing they are good at.

    The council have an attitude of 'It doesnt matter the tax payer is paying'
    They employ 3 people to do the same job completed by 1 person in the private sector. They set their strategies to time with elections. They take weeks to do something they expect us to do in days. They persecute anyone who dares to stand up against their attitude. They ignore professional best practise opinions and use threats of contractual disputes to get agreement of their ill thought out plans so they can blame the private sector. If they don't like the advise they simply go somewhere else or higher up the chain of command until they can they answer they want.

    I am looking forward to the private sector revival because the sooner I can distance myself from these people the better.

  • Comment number 72.

    Labour has squandered the wealth of the nation on a bloated and inefficient public sector. We currently pay far too much in tax - and still have government borrowings of nearly £1,000bn to pay off.

    Civil servants already enjoy better job security, better pay and better pensions than most people in the private sector - yet they have become unaccountable to anyone and their productivity is appalling. They are the new "fat cats" of the UK.

    The public sector is now so big that it is sucking the life blood out of our economy. It needs to be cut back dramatically. And that means putting these blood-sucking parasites in their place.

    The public sector could be cut by at least 50% and nobody would notice any difference!


  • Comment number 73.

    Just to make sure the myth is fully dispelled. Most public sector workers - not the police, nurses, teachers, nor MPs but dinner ladies, school support staff, bin men etc are also facing two year pay freezes, starting with the LGA's offer of 0% this year, and David Cameron's policy of a pay freeze in 2011. So thats two years in a row where the pay increase is nothing, and 5 years where we've had less than inflation pay rises. You won't find that anywhere in the private sector, and you won't find bonus payments either.

    So, before we tar all public sector workers with the same brush, those of us who are paid on the NJC Green Book pay scheme have not only had to contend with the full re-evalution of our jobs under the single status and equal pay systems (and some of us are still being looked at, 13 years into the process) and working alongside colleagues with far better terms and conditions (paid holiday for teachers, no paid holiday for support staff) and longer hours (27.5 for teachers, 37.5 for non-teachers) but we're also having two years of pay freezes, and five years to date of real-term pay cuts to pay for a recession that was entirely the cause of the private sector and greedy banks.

    Its easy to blame people whose average pay is £18,000 when you should be blaming the private sector and greedy banks, where the pay is much higher, and the bonuses even higher still.

  • Comment number 74.

    What is it with these comments? If you cant go on strike for fear of being sacked blame your lack of a union or anyone to speak up for you. Dont blame the people who join the unions specically for that reason!!

    As for the "we the taxpayers" nonsense, you think the private sector workers dont pay taxes?

    We provide the services you take for granted, well in saying that we used to but since the public sector is becoming a popular easy target i'm betting you will be complaining about them NOT being provided in the near future.

    The problem with most of the posters on here is that they associate the fat cat higher management who get paid stupid money or kick the hell out of expenses are the same as the poor sod who has to deal with your abusive calls while working on the front line of the social work department and take home 15,000 a year! Money most of you wouldnt get out of bed for!

  • Comment number 75.

    Let them strike, hopefully they will stay out for years at their own expense.

    There are too many civil service posts that are not remotely required, and as such are simply a way of giving someone an alternative to being unemployed, the 90 jobs created to administer the expenses of just 646 MPs being a very pertinent example.

    The country can't afford to feather bed anyone anymore. I was trying to explain to my twelve year old that he is going to be required to spend his working lifetime paying off the government overspend since he was born, and projected to continue till he leaves University, so that the adults now can have an easier ride than we are entitled to.

    It is time that we stopped ripping off the next generations, and a good place to start is on excessively generous civil service benefits.

  • Comment number 76.

    Quite right, why should Civil Servants be expected to sit back and watch whilst their terms and conditions of employment are torn up by this government? These changes are being made to help pay for the mistakes of the financial sector, who continue to enjoy their own bonuses, even though they got us all into this mess in the first place! Civil Service pay is considerably lower than for equivalent posts in the private sector, and that is why it was agreed that redundancy terms should be better to help compensate. The government probably never expected that they might have to make large scale redundancies in the public sector, but now that day has arrived, they have been quick to renege on long standing agreements, and their contractual obligations as employers.
    It is interesting to see the how the Civil Servants decision to strike is being derided in this forum, so lets hope that those who are so keen to criticise now, don't feel hard done by when they are faced with the inevitable Tax increases, VAT Increases, Loss of Tax Credits and inadequate Public Services after the forthcoming election.

  • Comment number 77.

    Whilst I disagree with any employer being allowed to go back on pay deals, I can't believe that the government agreed to the current deal that pays up to 3 years salary on redundancy! There is absolutely no way that a private sector employer could afford such a scheme for all its employees. Even a cap at two years is more than generous, how can the government justify spending the taxpayer's money this way?

  • Comment number 78.

    "Can I ask the many many people who work in the private sector who are extremely hostile to this whether they would be happy if their employer rewrote their contracts without asking them?"

    Sorry, this goes on in the private sector all the time. There may be some form of "consultation" on changes to contracts but this rarely changes anything that an employer is determined to make happen.

    Why do you think private sector employees have some protection that public sector don't have? The reverse is true.

  • Comment number 79.

    Without you telling us, how would the rest of us know!

  • Comment number 80.

    Hi there, Jenni at HYS here. Many of your comments are comparing the private and public sectors, so you might be interested in this BBC article comparing two public and private sector employees' working conditions.

    Where is it better to work - the public or private sector?

  • Comment number 81.

    They may feel aggrieved but I think they are in denial because the cost of public servants is unsustainable and in reality probably twice the size that the Nation can afford. In my view much of this problem is caused by the massively complicated and obscure systems which now appear to unable to exercise any sort of financial control because they are so complicated that they are unmanageable even with the most sophisticated computer systems because they reality to humanity, need constant input and to employ enough people to maintain that would take 70% of the working population.Recirculated funds which are collected only to be redistributed to the same people looks to account for more than a third of the cost of the Civil Service and they achieve far less than very basic simple systems would because simple systems, while not so delicately targeted, are manageable and understandable. At the moment, without massive cuts,the whole system is preprogrammed to bankrupt the nation.

  • Comment number 82.

    I thought that it was law with certain exeptions that most workers had the right to withdraw their labour.Whether or not you agree with the strikers demands is not relevant.

  • Comment number 83.

    I believe in a fair society, and if it is the norm for the private sector to receive minimum statutory redundancy payments then the same should apply to the public sector. I do believe in the right to strike, but it can only be effective if supported fully by others in the same sector. Eventually, the prolitariat will realise that through legislation they have been gradually disempowered by the modern political bourgeoisie. Until we recognise that it is, and always has been, a "them and us" society and move away from the "I'm alright Jack" viewpoint, we will continue to slowly sink back into the elitist societies of the 19th and early 20th century. Only then will the upper working/ middle classes realise that they are not alright!

  • Comment number 84.

    I have been a civil servant for the past 10 years, and have worked in the private sector in the past. When I joined the civil service I suffered pay deals that were much less than in the private sector, whilst undertaking often very stressful roles on behalf of the public, including being responsible for managing the accommodation 100,000 asylum seeks. The government wants to save £500m by cutting my redundancy payment but apparently still has the money to spend £54 million in one year on consultants in my department alone.
    People working in private sector may have had their pay frozen - but frozen at a decent level - 100,000 civil servants who do all the things you need - you driving licence, passport (my department), police call centre etc work for less than £15k per year, and they pay tax on that the same as private sector workers. We are not gready - all we expect is that the government sticks to a deal that Mrs Thather agreed in 1987, and that we are treated fairly.

  • Comment number 85.

    I do not think it is right for Civil Servants to strike at this time over this issue , niether do I think it right that the Government has appeared to break Employment Law by changing their terms and conditions without the agreement of the employee or it's representatives , ie the PCS. If the Government of the day breaches the law then it does not give the employee a lot of choice, because if they do not protest, then by law they are deemed to have accepted the changes. It is the governemt who are at fault, by not following the correct and lawful procedures to alter any employees terms and conditions.Once again the Government appear to be bullying their workforce , therefore they get what they deserve then.

  • Comment number 86.

    Only three years ago I put in a requisition for a new stapler and it took four days to arrive! In the meantime I was forced to borrow from colleagues which as you can imagine put a strain on an otherwise professional relationship.
    I am perfectly well aware that times are hard now for people in the private sector but Mary used to bring a choice of biscuits at both 10:50 AND 3:20. Now we only get a choice in the morning. In the afternoon we are no longer offered Rich Tea.
    So now, not to be offered a 10% pay rise this year is going to hit us when we already feel that morale is very low.

    Borrowing a stapler "strains a professional relationship". Choice of biscuits !. 10% pay rise ?.
    This poster is either a wind up merchant or an idiot living on another planet - I'm not sure which

  • Comment number 87.

    When the benefits and pay of the civil service are worse than the private sector they will have reason to strike.

    For several years their pay has been increasing, the number of jobs has rocketed, the attempts at increasing retirement age floundered, the pensions have become bulletproof and overall civil servants are the only group of people in this country to now have a job for life.

    Labour will never do anything to solve this because they have a conflict of interest with the unions but its certainly high time the civil service pensions mirror whats going on in the private sector.

  • Comment number 88.

    I seriously doubt whether I'll notice..

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    In Ireland, the Govt. has cut all tax payer funded wages/salaries from ~5-15%. And their deficit in fact at 12.2% is lower than the UK current deficit of 12.6%.

    Therefore in answer to the question, they should not strike but consider themselves very lucky that the Govt under Brown has not done what he should be doing, namely following the Irish policy. That also includes their MPs - ours get a £1000 rise. Absolutely disgraceful

  • Comment number 91.

    The public sector is necessary but parasitic. It lives off the wealth created in the private sector. It competes with the private sector for resources, capital, etc, and drives up operating costs for the private sector. Unless it is scaled back to a manageable size it will continue to suppress private sector growth. This country needs jobs, but not public sector jobs. Put them to work doing something useful, such as producing something. I vey much doubt that any more than 2 in 10 public jobs are doing anything useful, probably another 2 in 10 are doing nothing but wasting money, and the other 6 out of 10 are likely harming the economy by slowing, preventing and bureaucratising business.
    I can't believe they get such generous severance packages?

  • Comment number 92.

    Public sector workers have been wrapped in cotton wool for too long. I have absolutely no sympathy for them whatsoever. I work in the private sector and last year I had to take a 20% salary sacrifice to keep my job and that after 30% of the work force were made redundant. Those who lost their jobs only received between 1 and 3 months salary.
    There are way too many public sector non-jobs and EU compliance type of jobs and the party that pledges to cut the number has my vote.

  • Comment number 93.

    Jenni @ 80.
    And what about civil service no-contributory inflation proof pensions. These days worth a small fortune!

  • Comment number 94.

    HotorColdiDontmind wrote:
    "As a civil servant myself who is currently on strike I get so annoyed by single minded people who comlain about how they get treated badly so it should be the same for all. Get unionised, stand together, fight for whats right and fair."

    No thanks. I had to join a union as a condition of employment in the 80s. Most of us thought the union was a tyranny not the company - content to take our subs, avoid anyone opting out of the Labour party donation, and pursuing their own political agendas which invariably involved doing down the company at every turn while using the 'workers' as cannon fodder. And guess what, when union membership was no longer compulsory, we all walked away. And I got more pay rises after than I did before. I would not touch a union again with a barge pole, not even yours.

  • Comment number 95.

    Oh please, all you private sector workers saying join the real world.

    Do you not have a grasp of the basic augment? I left University and had a choice to either go into the private sector for a higher wage but greater risk regarding unemployment etc (having been self employed for a number of years before returning to full time education I experienced this). Or go into the government at a lower wage with less chance of career progression but with good pension and redundancy packages. I took the perceived job security. However, we now have a situation where the terms and conditions are being ripped up. How would you all feel if you had an employment contract and the employer just decided that it will not honour it? You would feel rightly aggrieved by this, any reasonable person would. There is also the thought that once the government gets this through they will then start on the pensions. I think that most Civil Servants are realistic and accept that thing need to change but make these changes to new entrants who have the choice to take the terms offered or go to the private sector not just bully the existing employees into unfair changes. This is obviously a precursor to the stated job losses that are coming. If these redundancies are needed fair enough but do it fairly and give us civil servants what we have worked hard for and are entitled too.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yes if it destroys a communist government currently abusing its power and destroying democracy.

  • Comment number 97.

    Steve wrote:
    ".. I will expand.."

    Just like the public sector has this last decade.

  • Comment number 98.

    The simple fact is a country has a wage just like you or me. The wage that the country earns is from the private sector. Now the government has had to take a massive cut in wages (tax receipts). So they are now looking at cutting spending just like we are cutting spending. I mean just how some people think we can go on like this beggar’s belief.

  • Comment number 99.

    They should be satisfied with what they have got - they have more than a lot of us. They are even striking because they have not had a rise on their traveling expenses for the last 3 years poor things!!! I have to pay to travel to my work place each day, so why don't they instead of useing they taxpayers money???

  • Comment number 100.

    I work in a London DWP office and here we have had only 7 out of 100 staff on strike. In fact we've actually got more people in as leave was cancelled for 2 days to counter the strike.

    Don't believe for a second the figures the PCS are saying. 270,000 disaffected civil servants? Not likely, more like 27,000, the rest of us are reasonably content, realistic and don't have hidden agendas. Over half the staff here are in the union and only 7 have gone on strike. Of those 7 I believe half will be in tomorrow which is also planned to be a strike day.

    It's no coincidence the union plans the strike for a Monday as they know more people, on the spur of the moment, will decide to strike on Monday morning.


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