So this is Strikemas.
While the trains are delayed and mail is being left in the depot, another workforce is looking to walk out.
Civil service fast-streamers seem set to be the latest group of public servants to strike over pay – with strike ballots landing with First Division Association union members today after strong support for a strike in an earlier vote.
Young professionals on the graduate scheme could join colleagues at the Border Force, the Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions – notwithstanding swathes of other workers – in a winter walkout over pay.
FDA chiefs have been bullish about their demands, asking for a 6 per cent pay increase for the group of professionals meant to be the best and brightest graduates, as it says many are going without meals to get by.
Lauren Crowley, the FDA officer for the scheme, told The Guardian: “We have long been clear that structural reform of fast stream pay was essential to ensuring a fair deal for fast streamers.
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“Yet the Cabinet Office refused and instead offered just a 3% pay increase, which was rejected by 95% of our members. Once again, our members are left with just sympathetic words and a promise of jam tomorrow while facing a real-terms pay cut.”
And also drawing the ire of the young grads is the inequality between themselves and the rest of the Civil Service.
A pay rise of 3.7% since the Tories took power in 2010 has been outpaced by that of Higher Executive Officer (HCO) roles which have enjoyed a 15.6% hike in that time.
The modus operandi of the Fast Stream is to cherry pick top graduates and fasttrack them into more senior roles. But with the base wage only rising this meager amount in the last decade and inflation running in double-digits, it could be asked: why would cream of the crop be attracted?
In London, where most ambitious graduates want to base themselves, the issue of skyrocketing rent will also put people off the scheme. With no London Weighting for the fast-streamers living in the capital, it becomes ever more of a squeeze during the cost-of-living crisis.
The news of the ballot was met with derision from some quarters – not least GB News’s political correspondent Tom Harwood who slammed the grads for their “sense of entitlement”.
He is right, of course, to point out the significant benefits and career progression that the fledgling public servants enjoy as a reason to stick it out.
But with a decade of slow wage growth and no deal to meaningfully uplift the salary, will the fast stream remain the competitive bastion of elite graduates it once was?
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