A quarter of a million civil and public servants will be balloted over strike action following the government's refusal to negotiate over cuts to pay, pensions and working conditions, union PCS said today.
The union wrote to the Cabinet Office and employers in December calling for further talks but said that Civil Service head Bob Kerslake has refused to engage on any of these issues.
The PCS national executive committee agreed today to move to an industrial action ballot from February 8 and closing on March 4.
If the government continues to refuse to negotiate the union will make plans for a series of strikes, including full and half-days, and shorter walkouts.
It is also writing to other unions to seek discussions about the possibility of co-ordinated action.
The union has accused ministers of targeting the Civil Service in an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that its austerity measures are failing.
A plan announced in the autumn to review all Civil Service working conditions could lead to longer working hours and fewer family-friendly policies, the union says. While the four-year pay freeze and cap and increased pension contributions would cut pay by 16 per cent on average by 2014.
PCS is demanding a minimum pay rise of 5 per cent or £1,200 for all civil servants this year, no cuts to terms and conditions, no increase in pension contributions or the pension age and no reduction in pension benefits.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Civil and public servants are working harder than ever to provide the services that we all rely on, yet their lives are being made more difficult by cuts to their jobs, pay, pensions and now even their basic working conditions.
"Instead of rewarding them for their effort and commitment, this Tory-led government is pressing ahead with cuts that are wrecking our economy, while shamefully trying to deflect the blame for failure onto civil servants."