Civil service pay: PCS calls for united push to end 1% cap

Written by Jim Dunton on 9 January 2017 in News

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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MoD (not verified)

Submitted on 9 January, 2017 - 13:24
Why are the members of the three unions (myself included) paying for this service? It has taken 6 years for you to notice that we are unhappy with the pay restraint and the 3 main unions don't seem able to agree on anything to help their members. Another question I have is - what is the opinion of the 3 unions on specialist pay being brought into line with industry norm? Because, this will move away from the utterly ludicrous and not working "broader banding" that seemed to be heavily favoured a few years ago.

Prospect Member (not verified)

Submitted on 9 January, 2017 - 16:03
I'm sure I remember the Government promising that after the 11% pay rise in 2015 they would have rises in line with the Civil Service. How many Civil Servants got a 1.4% rise? We didn't in the MOD.

Phil C (not verified)

Submitted on 9 January, 2017 - 16:34
I can't see this is really going to change anything. If the Government is going to budge on pay restraint, it is most likely to be for those in more specialist areas where they are already experiencing problems recruiting people. The wider civil service is unlikely to see a change in pay policy at least until 2020 and perhaps not even then. Nothing to do with money though, it's all about ideology.

Anon (not verified)

Submitted on 12 January, 2017 - 08:57
This is a problem in my department that has a lot of specialists, any money it does have for pay is focused on recruiting and retaining specialists in problematic areas so even less to go round for the rest of us.

Susan too (not verified)

Submitted on 10 January, 2017 - 11:47
Yet again ... the Unions start making noises when it affects SCS ... does anyone care about us minions????????

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