Prospect’s 1,300 scientists working in the Forensic Science Service (FSS), say they have been left with no other course of action as, nine months after the due settlement date, FSS management still refuses to improve its 2003 below-inflation pay offer of 1.125%.
Administrative staff at FSS, represented by the Public and Commercial Services union, will also take part in the strike, which will be followed by an overtime ban and work-to-rule.
Prospect General Secretary Paul Noon said: "Offering dedicated public servants with a world wide reputation for excellence only 1.1% is derisory. Their evidence is often crucial to a case, requiring a high degree of skilful analysis and years of training, yet they are the poorest paid professionals in the criminal justice system."
A fully trained forensic scientist attending crime scenes and giving evidence in court, and with around 10 years experience post-graduation, receives around £25k.
This compares with a Police detective inspector who can expect between £38-£40k; a Crown Prosecution Service solicitor receiving between £37-£49K; or other expert witnesses such as NHS psychologists who can expect to receive £30k.
"Living under the threat of privatisation has already caused morale to plummet in FSS without our members being forced to take pay cuts as well," said Noon. "Prospect believes the FSS pay offer is a crude attempt to keep costs down and facilitate the government’s controversial plans to privatise the service next year."
Noon will join members on the picket line outside the London laboratory at 109 Lambeth Rd, SE1 7LP at 8-9.30am. Pickets will also operate at FSS’ laboratories in Chorley (Lancashire), Wetherby (West Yorkshire), Birmingham (Priory House), Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and Chepstow (Gwent). However special dispensation will be given to staff presenting evidence in ongoing court cases or called to emergency crime scenes.
Notes to editors:
- The FSS is currently an executive agency of the Home Office with 2,500 staff. It undertakes about 90% of the forensic work carried out for the 43 police forces in England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service and Customs & Excise. Separate public sector arrangements will continue in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- This is the first time in the history of FSS that staff have taken strike action.