CIVIL servants at the closure-threatened Department for Education in Runcorn are to ballot for industrial action over plans to cut 1,000 jobs across the country.

They are already fighting to save 450 jobs at the Halton Lea office.

Staff are incensed after the Government has increased its cost cutting measures and now plans to shed more than a quarter of its workforce.

The Public and Commercial Services union believes education secretary Michael Gove is using the department as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service cuts and to help drive through more academies and free schools.

The union is seeking urgent negotiations over the planned job cuts, office closures and a performance management system that the DfE's own figures show is discriminatory.

If the department continues to refuse to talk, the union will begin balloting up to 1,800 DfE civil servants for strikes and other forms of industrial action.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka said: "With plans for a 50% budget cut education secretary Michael Gove is playing politics with people's livelihoods and the education of our children and future generations.

"These ideological cuts will not only mean misery for 1,000 of Mr Gove's own staff but also put at risk some vital public services, such as ensuring children are safe at school and supporting special educational needs."