This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.

Woman striker at picket line with sign

A government pay offer made to UK civil servants has been rejected by unions, raising the likelihood of continued strikes at the border.

Both the FDA and PCS unions have rejected the government’s most recent pay update published Friday (14 April), which would limit pay increases to 4.5%, according to Bloomberg. Union representatives argue that this is half the current rate of inflation.

According to Civil Service World, a government spokesperson claimed the 2023-24 deal would equate to the highest pay increase for civil servants in 20 years.

The PCS includes Border Force staff, as well as workers at the Passport Office. Previous walkouts have caused disruption to those moving goods across the border, with customs officials warning traders that they would face disruption at UK and French ports.

The next PCS strike is scheduled for 28 April.

‘Insulting’ offer

According to the Guardian, PCS secretary general Mark Serwotka said: “This insulting proposal will serve only to anger PCS members, stiffen their resolve ahead of the forthcoming re-ballot and increase the likelihood of a new wave of sustained strike action.”

Serwotka reportedly urged members of his union to vote ‘yes’ in an upcoming strike ballot, due to close 9 May, that would extend the strike mandate for an additional 6 months.

PCS is demanding at least a 10% pay raise, coupled with improvements in job security, annual leave and other aspects of working life.

The Times reports that members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Prospect, which represents health and safety workers, have both similarly rejected government pay offers.

The RCN’s decision to return to strike action conflicts with that of Unison, which also represents nurses, and whose members voted by 75% to accept the same deal.

Damage uncertain

According to Sky News, the general secretary of FDA, Dave Penman, stated that he and his counterpart at Prospect, Mike Clancy, both “pleaded with [a minister] to pull back from the edge of what will inevitably be a prolonged and damaging dispute".

Prospect members are now scheduled to walk out 10 May and 7 June.

The damage caused by the strikes to the economy is yet to be fully calculated, with some economic activity being displaced rather than destroyed. The long-term effects are hard to calculate. The number of days lost to industrial action reached the highest sustained level in decades, according to the FT.

Progress on train strikes

One set of industrial action that appears to be about to end is that in the rail industry.

Reuters reports that the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the body representing UK train companies, have made a fresh offer to rail workers on Friday (14 April), following “further constructive joint discussions” with union leadership.

The RMT union is said to be considering the offer and has said that no decision on the next steps had yet been taken.

A “last and best offer” was made previously, but union bosses declined to submit it for a vote.

As reported by the IOE&IT Daily Update, the members of the RMT union voted to accept a pay offer late March, in a separate dispute involving Network Rail.