Britain's civil servants gave a thumbs up to strikes today as union members returned a positive vote for action over pay, pensions and working conditions.
Nearly a quarter of a million public-sector workers could hit the picket lines in a national walkout after Britain's largest Civil Service union PCS said its national ballot had found 61 per cent in favour of strike action, with four out of five members backing some form of industrial action.
The union's general secretary Mark Serwotka said public-sector workers were "working harder than ever" in the struggling economy.
"But instead of rewarding them the government is cutting their pay, raiding their pensions and trying to rip up their basic working conditions."
The attacks on staff were a microcosm of the wider economy, he added.
"We said more than two years ago that austerity wouldn't work and we have been proved right.
"Under this Tory-led government, our economy has flatlined, we are heading for a triple-dip recession and the Chancellor has lost his prized AAA credit rating.
"We urgently need to invest our way out of recession, with an end to the economically disastrous pay freeze and job cuts and with a serious clampdown on tax avoidance and evasion," he said.
The union has demanded a minimum pay rise of 5 per cent or £1,200 for all civil servants this year and a mandatory living wage for all government contractors.
The union also continued to demand a U-turn on increased pension contributions, reduced payouts and a raised retirement age despite being "locked out" of negotiations in 2011.
Turnout among the union's 250,000 members balloted was 28 per cent.
The union's national executive committee is expected to announce its official course of action on Wednesday.
Meanwhile a Cabinet Office spokesman insisted the union was "pushing for futile action.
"The government took the tough decision to freeze public-sector pay for two years, while protecting those earning under £21,000 by increasing their pay by at least £250 per year.
"Pay restraint has helped to protect jobs in the public sector and support high-quality public services," he said.
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