UK forensic scientists to strike over pay

Q-tips in pockets on 2 June

Unions representing the employees of the UK's Forensic Science Service (FSS) have called a one-day strike in protest over a below inflation rate pay increase.

At the end of April 2004, Prospect, the union representing scientists in the FSS balloted members on the industrial action. Today, support staff, represented by Public and Commercial Services Union, backed the scientists and will join them in the walk-out on 2 June.

PCS describes the strike as a last resort to raise awareness of the 1.125 per cent pay raise offer. In a statement, the PCS acknowledges that a strike will have an impact both on the finances of the FSS, and on the cases arriving for processing. It also stressed that members will still attend major crime scenes to "preserve and gather forensic evidence".

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said that the increase offered represented a real-terms pay cut for members, and was completely unacceptable particularly in a year when the FSS recorded a surplus of £10.2m.

"We have sought a negotiated settlement, but management seem happy rewarding staff for their hard work with a below inflation cost of living increase by pointing the finger of blame at the Treasury," he said. "This further underlines the farce of delegated pay and the need for a return to national pay bargaining for the civil service."

The news comes alongside the highly controversial proposed privatisation of the service. This has provoked deep criticism from staff who are gathering this week to discuss how the move might affect the quality of their work, and their contribution to criminal investigations. ®

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