Unions to meet Government officials over plans to cut 90,000 civil service jobs - and strike action threatened

A union has warned that the plan to cut 91,000 civil service jobs could exacerbate passport delays

Union leaders will meet Government officials next week amid continued anger over the Prime Minister’s plan to axe tens of thousands of jobs in the civil service.

Representatives from the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will warn that delays in issuing passports and driving licences will get worse if staff numbers are cut.

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

What is the Public and Commercial Services union?

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

It has a membership of roughly 200,000 people, although it is not yet clear how many members would go on strike if one was voted for.

There have been several incidents of strike action involving PCS members in recent years.

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

In 2021 after a fatal outbreak of Covid-19 at DVLA offices, members took multiple days of strike action over a lack of adequate health and safety protection.

What is the plan to cut civil service jobs?

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

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

Between 30,000 to 40,000 civil servants leave each year, and therefore part of the reduction could be achieved through limiting new recruitment.

Jacob Rees-Mogg conceded that compulsory redundancies may be required

However Brexit Opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg stated that compulsory redundancies may also be required to meet the reduction target.

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

What has the union said about the proposed job cuts?

The union has warned of strikes in response to Boris Johnson’s planned 91,000 civil service job cuts.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members are in a state of shock. That the first they heard of these cuts was when it was announced in the media tells you all you need to know about what the Government thinks of civil servants.

“Our members, the heroes praised by the Government for risking their lives keeping the country running during the pandemic, are now being told their jobs are at risk.

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

“Making cuts will only make things worse, make waiting lists longer for those seeking passports and driving licences, make telephone queues longer for those with tax inquiries.

“We shall fight for every job in the civil service. Not just on behalf of our members, but on behalf of every member of the public who relies on the services they provide.”

When will talks with the government be held?

The PCS will hold talks with Government officials early next week and there will also be an emergency meeting of its executive to discuss its response to job losses.