PCS decided today to launch legal action with other unions against the government over unilateral changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme and hold a strike ballot amongst 270,000 PCS members working for the civil service and its related bodies.
The move follows a meeting of the union’s National Executive Committee who have written to the Cabinet Office minister, Tessa Jowell MP. The letter urges ministers to avoid legal and industrial action by ensuring officials honour ministerial promises to find a negotiated agreement.
The changes to the redundancy terms, which the union fears will lead to the government cutting jobs on the cheap, were unilaterally announced on 4 December and will see staff robbed of their entitlements if they are forced out of their jobs.
Ministers had promised to instruct officials to meet PCS and other civil service unions to discuss PCS concerns when they announced plans in July to cut the terms of the compensation scheme. But that ministerial commitment appears to have been undermined by senior officials, who have cancelled four scheduled meetings over the last two months.
If ministers press ahead with their plans and refuse to find an acceptable agreement that defends existing members’ entitlements, then they will need to lay an order before Parliament. This will trigger a ballot for industrial action of over 270,000 PCS members across the civil service and related bodies.
In the meantime, PCS in conjunction with other unions representing civil servants, will be mounting a legal challenge and seeking a judicial review over the changes.
Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The government has an opportunity to avoid legal and industrial action by ensuring officials honour ministerial promises to make the changes through negotiation rather than imposition.
“Cancelling meetings with unions and unilaterally announcing changes has angered staff who will be robbed of their entitlements if they are forced out of their jobs. We have decided to mount a legal challenge with other unions representing civil servants and hold a strike ballot of over 270,000 PCS members working in civil and public services.
“Ministers need to honour their promises and come to an agreement with the unions to avoid a damaging dispute.”
10 December 2009