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Tuesday 22nd January 2013 | 13:21
PCS press release
Civil servants in the Department for Education are preparing to ballot for industrial action over plans for 50% cuts that threaten 1,000 jobs and six UK offices, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.
In autumn 2012 the department announced it was going further even than chancellor George Osborne's required level of cuts, and now plans to shed more than a quarter of its workforce.
The union believes education secretary Michael Gove is using the department as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service cuts and to help drive through more academies and free schools.
Last week it emerged that senior civil servants in the DfE played a game using party hats to share their plans for what to cut.
Describing it as a "monumental loss of judgement", the union's negotiations officer for DfE, Kathy Prendiville, wrote to the department's permanent secretary to complain - but he has refused to apologise.
The department has also refused to outline what work will no longer be deemed a "priority" under the 50% cuts.
The union is seeking urgent negotiations over the planned job cuts, office closures and a performance management system that the DfE's own figures show is discriminatory.
If the department continues to refuse to talk, the union will begin balloting up to 1,800 DfE civil servants from next Monday (28) for strikes and other forms of industrial action.
The union announced last week that a new national ballot will be held in February of its 250,000 public sector members over cuts to pay, pensions, jobs and terms and conditions.
Because of massive job cuts civil and public servants are working harder than ever to provide the public services that we all rely on. But instead of rewarding them, the government is cutting their pay, raiding their pensions and trying to rip up their contracts by cutting terms and conditions.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With plans for a 50% budget cut education secretary Michael Gove is playing politics with people's livelihoods and the education of our children and future generations.
"These ideological cuts will 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."