An overwhelming majority of the 32,000 specialists and managers represented by the Prospect union are expected to stay away from work or attend picket lines outside Government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
Among them will be nuclear physicists (Fusion Energy), botanists (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew), electronic engineers and procurement specialists (Ministry of Defence), palaeontologists (Natural History Museum), prison psychologists (HM Prison Service), veterinary and scientific staff (Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency), curators and conservators (British Museum), safety inspectors (Health and Safety Executive), Hansard writers (Houses of Parliament), forest research scientists (Forestry Commission), environmental scientists (Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Environment Research Council), interviewers and statisticians (Office for National Statistics) and scores of other specialist disciplines.
“All over the country, local reps report a huge surge in support for Wednesday’s action,” said Dai Hudd, Deputy General Secretary of Prospect. “People who have never taken industrial action before are coming out to make clear they will not be bullied by this Government.
“Our members are skilled, qualified experts whose work is vital to meet the needs of today’s society. Stripping away their pension rights will not make them perform better. But it has made them angry. I have not seen such widespread and consistent expressions of anger in over thirty years.
“Loud and clear, they are saying to this Government: Stop waging war on public servants.”
Picketing at more than 400 workplaces across the UK will be the focus of activity on the morning of 30 November – including Scotland and Wales, also hit by the pension changes despite the opposition of devolved Governments to the increase in contributions.
General Secretary Paul Noon will visit picket lines in London, including major tourist attractions the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria & Albert, as well as MOD Main Building, the Palace of Westminster, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury in Whitehall. Dai Hudd will address pickets at MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support agency at Abbey Wood, Bristol, going on to address a demonstration at Castle Park, Bristol.
Prospect members backed the strike action in a ballot by a 3:1 majority earlier this month. Turnout was 52.6%. The Government’s revised offer, which would still cut the value of their pension by 39%, has been rejected as inadequate by the union’s Civil Service Sector Executive.
Professionals and specialists are among three million workers protesting against the imposition of a 3.2% average increase in pension contributions (5% for anyone earning over £30,000), the switch from RPI to CPI for uprating pensions, and being forced to work an extra eight years to receive a pension.
They work in 16 Government departments, 41 executive agencies and 51 non-departmental public bodies.