A union representing civil servants has suspended its ballot to strike to enter new talks with the government.
The FDA – which represents members of the Civil Service up to the permanent secretary level – made the announcement today.
The move could put pressure on other unions representing civil servants to return to the negotiating table.
FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said: “The decision to ballot for national industrial action over pay was taken by the FDA for the first time in 40 years.
“It was intended to send a clear message to the government that enough was enough, as they had failed to demonstrate that they valued the civil service equally with the rest of the public sector. The invitation to talks is the first indication that this message has been heard.
“Industrial action is never an end in itself, it is a means to an end.
“All we have asked is for the civil service to be treated fairly and with respect – the approach to pay in 2023 was one way of demonstrating this.
“The invitation to talks may indicate that the government intends to change its approach to pay for this year and we must make every effort to ensure that whatever opportunities this provides, we try to deliver the best possible outcome for our members.
“If it does not, then the union stands ready to proceed with the ballot for industrial action that we have prepared for.”
The FDA announced it would launch the ballot in April, following a pay offer from the government of between 4.5% and 5%.
The threat of action also comes amid worsening relationships between the Civil Service and ministers – with ministers saying civil servants are briefing and working against them.
Earlier this month, Mr Penman told the union’s conference: “Now, having been told you’re a lazy, woke, inefficient, Remainer, activist, snowflake, you are also now apparently a Machiavellian genius, able to unseat ministers and undermine the settled will of government.
“I don’t know about you, conference, but I’ve had enough of this.”