Education members vote for first strike

18 February 2013

Michael Gove's civil servants have voted 63.3% to strike over plans for 50% cuts that threaten 1,000 jobs and six UK offices.

In a ballot of the union's 1,800 members in the DfE nearly two thirds of those who voted said they would be prepared to strike and 86.9% voted for other forms of industrial action, including working to rule.

This is the first time that strike action has been voted for in the department's current incarnation.

Last autumn, following a review led by global management consultancy Bain and Company, the department announced it would be shedding more than a quarter of its workforce, going further even than chancellor George Osborne's required level of cuts.

The union believes education secretary Michael Gove is using the department as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service cuts.

Last month the DfE's permanent secretary Chris Wormald was criticised by the Commons education select committee after it was revealed his senior civil servants played a game using party hats to share their plans for what to cut.

Cuts purely political

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "These cuts are purely political and would not only mean misery for 1,000 of Mr Gove's own staff but also put at risk some vital public services, such as ensuring children are safe at school and supporting special educational needs.

"The news that Bain and Company has been installed at a senior level of the department ought to ring alarm bells. There are serious questions to answer about a conflict of interest, given it would be allowed to bid for future contracts after receiving such privileged access."

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