PCS becomes third Whitehall union to reject MoJ pay deal
Ballot on controversial 11% five-year offer sees 94% of members vote against
The Ministry of Justice Credit: PA
Members of the civil service’s biggest union have dealt a massive blow to the Ministry of Justice’s plans to radically revise staff terms and conditions in return for a pay deal worth up to 11% over five years.
PCS bosses had called on members to reject the “Modernising Employment Proposition” offer on the grounds that it would extend the working week, make bank holidays and Saturdays part of regular hours, and result in pay cuts for some staff.
Results of the ballot published at the end of last week showed PCS members voted by 93.64% to reject the offer on a 74.37% turnout that saw more than 6,000 staff take part.
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Civil service unions the FDA and Prospect had already rejected the deal in earlier ballots, however their members were more likely to be disadvantaged across the board by the offer. Adding further insult, the MoJ's proposition was tabled after many other parts of the public sector were offered deals that represented a genuine improvement on the 1% cap on rises that has been place for the past six years, and which followed a two-year freeze.
PCS said it believed that only around half of its members working at the MoJ would get the full 11% rise over the five-year period, which included annual 3% raises for the first three years.
In a statement following the result the union said it was now calling on the ministry to reopen pay negotiations.
“Staff were so keen to show their contempt for the department’s so-called Modernising Employment Proposition, which for many would mean a real-terms pay cut, that more than 1,000 of them joined PCS so they could vote against,” the statement said.
“In fact, so many people joined PCS in the department that membership has gone up by 10% across the justice sector.”
Calling on members to reject the offer before the ballot closed on 30 August, the union had said the deal's principal flaw was that it was largely self-financed.
“The lack of new money from government means that while the majority of staff will receive a pay award they will have to sell their terms and conditions to get it,” it said.
One reason the deal was so unpopular with senior staff was that it proposed splitting the MoJ’s current A-Band pay grade into the Grade 6 and Grade 7 categories more widely used for senior staff elsewhere in the civil service. That exercise alone was said by one union to result in annual pay cuts of £11,000 for some A-Band staff placed into the lower of the two options.
The MoJ had said the MEP proposals would provide better pay, modernise a complex allowance system and bring the department’s grading structure in line with the wider civil service.
Responding to the PCS vote, a spoksman said: “We remain committed to improving pay, fairness and efficiency to enable us to attract and retain the right people to help us deliver our important services. We will now consider the ballot results and wider feedback, and reflect with our trade unions on the next steps.”
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