Civil service pay: PCS calls for united push to end 1% cap
Civil service’s biggest union says pressures flagged by FDA and Prospect in support of new pay deal also affect less senior workers
The civil service’s biggest union has added its voice to calls for the agreement of a new multi-year pay deal for Whitehall staff, following the lead of the FDA and Prospect.
Last week, the two unions – which represent the Senior Civil Service grades and professionals such as engineers and scientists – published their latest submission to the Senior Salaries Review Board.
The principal request was for an end to the ongoing 1% cap on pay rises, introduced by the coalition government, on the grounds that the current era of pay restraint is out of step with the demands Brexit is placing on the civil service.
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Other demands included centralisation of SCS workforce policy to iron out departmental anomalies and an end to the capping of promotion-related pay rises for internal candidates.
Now the Public and Commercial Services Union has called for a pan-Whitehall campaign to end the lock-down on pay imposed by former-chancellor George Osborne from 2010.
A union spokesman said that the strain placed on an under-resourced civil service by preparations for the UK to leave the European Union – highlighted by the FDA and Prospect – was not exclusive to senior staff.
“The civil service is under immense pressure at all levels, particularly in the lower grades that have been disproportionately hit by 110,000 job cuts since 2010,” he said.[6:14]
“Everyone is having to do more for less pay so, as well as starting to invest in our public services again, the government must end the pay freeze and we look forward to discussing with FDA, Prospect and other unions how we can take action together to bring this about.”
The FDA and Prospect submission to the SSRB cited the creation of the Department for Exiting the European Union as one example of preparations for Brexit ramping up pressure on Whitehall resources, arguing that 250 staff had been taken away from other departments but said they had been unable to confirm their previous roles had been backfilled.
The unions called on chancellor Philip Hammond to exercise “realism on resourcing” that took the “major challenge” of Brexit into account.
Survey data in the submission also pointed to low morale in the SCS, and found just one fifth of respondents believing their department had the resources to meet the demands of the year ahead.
While the civil service unions have common ground on calling for an end to pay restraint, there was disagreement last year on a joint approach to negotiations with the government over changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.
The FDA and Prospect urged members to back a deal with the Cabinet Office on the new scheme, despite FDA general secretary Dave Penman describing the government's decision to revisit redundancy packages six years after the previous deal as “unnecessary and unjustified”.
PCS declined to take part in the negotiations, and members rejected the Cabinet Office’s proposals in a November ballot by a margin of more than 20-1.
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