Union leaders are balloting the national church’s lay workers over industrial action next month. About 100 members of Church staff are members of the Public & Commercial Services Union.

The PCS asked for a 3 per cent pay rise last summer but claims it was told by the National Church Institutions that no extra money was available. At the same time, it says staff are having to contribute an extra 1.6 per cent into their pension pots. The union then requested a 1 per cent rise for the lowest paid or a goodwill gesture of extra holiday between Christmas and New Year, but says that too was refused.

Now, “for the first time in history”, the Church staff are being balloted over industrial action. Local reps claim there is support for a half-day strike, which is pencilled in for the afternoon of March 12 depending on the result of the ballot.

A note sent to all PCS Church members states: “It is intended that there will be picket lines outside Lambeth Palace and Church House as well as other relevant sites and we hope to attract a strong media presence and interest in this historically unique dispute. We want to make senior figures within the Church aware of what is being done in its name. They may also wish to reflect on whether this constitutes Christian behaviour!”

Earlier this week Synod agreed that clergy must “work longer and retire later” in order to fill a £350million black hole in the Church’s pension fund.

COMMENT: "They may also wish to reflect on whether this constitutes Christian behaviour!"

Anyone want to have a wild guess at the chances of that happening?

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