The government is seeking to override the wishes of the majority of its workforce by imposing cuts to civil service redundancy pay with a view to making massive job cuts, PCS says.
The union says negotiations have been conducted against the backdrop of the most serious threat to civil and public servants’ livelihoods in living memory, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk under the next spending review, the details of which will be unveiled in two weeks time.
The union last week criticised the Treasury for intervening in the talks over changes to the civil service compensation scheme, which governs redundancy payments, saying that its undisclosed limit on the total amount of money available risked dashing any hope of reaching an agreement.
The government has now suggested it has reached an “agreement” over cuts to redundancy pay with the other five unions.
With 270,000 members in the civil and public services the union, which successfully struck down in the High Court the previous government’s attempts to undermine redundancy terms, represents twice as many staff as the other five civil service unions combined.
The High Court ruled that it was unlawful to reduce rights under the scheme that had accrued through length of service without the agreement of all the unions
The High Court ruled that it was unlawful to reduce rights under the scheme that had accrued through length of service without the agreement of all the unions affected.
The coalition government has introduced legislation in parliament to drastically cap redundancy payments for a limited period and, in what the union says is a gross abuse of power, has suggested it will change the law to usurp the High Court’s ruling.
PCS’s ruling national executive committee today (7 October) agreed to demand further negotiations with the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, setting out why the latest offer put forward is unacceptable.
If the Cabinet Office refuses to meet or talks are unsuccessful, members will be balloted with a recommendation to reject the proposals, on the basis of the union’s policy not to sign away members’ accrued rights, the strength of the judicial review ruling and the possibility of further legal action.
The NEC also agreed that the union will proceed with a challenge under the Human Rights Act to the current legislative attempts to cut redundancy pay.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We remain committed to reaching an agreement, but we will not be bullied into agreeing massive cuts in redundancy terms simply because the government wants to lay waste to our members’ jobs and livelihoods more cheaply.
“PCS is not just one union out of six. We are the overwhelming voice of civil servants, with twice as many members as the other five unions combined. It is disappointing that the other unions appear willing to accept what is by any measure a severe cut in redundancy rights that effectively tears up the contracts their members have signed.”