The IT workers, who are employed by Fujitsu, work on contracts at HM Revenue & Customs, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Office for National Statistics and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
They are being balloted after the PCS union turned down the offer of a pay rise of between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent for the coming year.
The union said that the rise was less than inflation and accused the company of reneging on an agreement to introduce introduced a structured pay progression system. General secretary Mark Serwotka called on the government to intervene.
“Just because these staff are off the government’s books, ministers are ultimately responsible for what happens in their department’s name and they cannot simply wash their hands of issues like low pay among their contractors,” he said.
But Fujitsu denied that it had gone back on a promise to reform pay and said that it was prepared to implement a pay review. Further talks are being held later this week.
“PCS has decided not to ask its members to vote on our pay offer, which we believe is a fair one, but has decided instead to ask them to vote on whether to take industrial action,” said a Fujitsu spokesman.
The 750 staff perform a variety of roles across the departments they work in, including maintaining the systems that pay tax credits at HMRC and produce driving licenses at the DVLA, so any industrial action could hit services. If union members vote to strike then action could take place as soon as September, the PCS say.