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Unions set for three days of strikes in October

Unions protest in London 10 July 2014 Image copyright Reuters

The government is facing a series of strikes next month after public sector unions voted for a national walkout.

The PCS union, which represents civil servants, says about 250,000 of its members will walk out on 15 October.

Health unions will take industrial action on 13 October with council workers striking the next day.

Unions are protesting over pay which, for many in the public sector, has been frozen since 2010. The government says pay restraint has protected services.

Ministers also say it has prevented more job losses in the public sector.

Living standards

The latest industrial action marks an escalation and a change in tactics by unions as they protest over the government's proposed 1% pay rise, which is below inflation.

The PCS says that since 2010 pay freezes have resulted in a 20% cut in the income of civil servants, when adjusted for inflation and increases in pension contributions.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "These strikes show we are serious about bringing an end to pay cuts that have slashed the living standards of public servants while the super rich have been rewarded with tax cuts.

"Until we chase down the tax dodgers and invest properly in our communities and public services, the so-called economic recovery will only ever benefit millionaires, while the millions pay the price."

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is also planning a mass march and demonstration on 18 October, themed "Britain Needs a Pay Rise".

At the TUC Congress in Liverpool earlier this month the head of the TUC Frances O'Grady said the government "was out of touch" on the issue of public sector pay.

The last major protest was in July when unions held a joint national strike day.

The October strike by the PCS will include employees of Westminster government departments and agencies and the Welsh assembly but not members in Scotland.

About 2,000 PCS members in Northern Ireland are expected to strike, of which 1,500 work in HM Revenue and Customs.

Unison, which has 300,000 members who work for the NHS in England, said its four-hour stoppage on 13 October would be followed by four days of industrial action.

On those days, union members would stop working through their breaks and instead take their breaks, Unison said.

"It's not too late for [Health Secretary] Jeremy Hunt to act to avoid this and we repeat our offer to the government to negotiate with us," said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.

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