The civil service’s biggest union has criticised the government for its failure to respond to an official petition calling for a 10% rise for workers that is designed to make up for a decade that has seen a real-terms pay reduction of one-fifth for some staff.
PCS president Fran Heathcote started the petition on the official UK Government and Parliament site in July and the call for government workers to “get a fair pay rise” had hit the 10,000-signatures mark within three days. The current tally is more than 51,000.
Under the rules, petitions that accumulate 10,000 signatures get a response from the government and those that reach the 100,000 mark are “considered” for a debate in parliament. According to the official petitions website, such petitions are “almost always” debated.
This week PCS said it was still waiting for the official government response to Heathcote’s call eight weeks after the 10,000-signature target was reached.
Currently there are 27 petitions awaiting a government response, but only a call to make parking for all NHS staff permanently free at their places of work has waited longer for an official answer.
PCS’s petition says that civil service pay has fallen in value by up to 20% over the past 10 years and left many workers facing hardship at a time when they are delivering vital public services to keep the nation safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Civil servants have been overpaying pension contributions,” it says. “Government pay policy for 2020 restricts increases to 1.5-2.5%. Government workers have delivered the Job Retention Scheme, kept our courts running and our borders secure.
“It’s time to recognise their contribution and restore the real value of their pay.”
PCS said the fact that ministers had not bothered to respond to the petition in the weeks since the requirement for a formal response was triggered showed their “disregard” for workers.
The call for a 10% pay-rise extends not only to departmental civil servants but also to staff at non-departmental public bodies and those working for the government on outsourced contracts.
The petition – like all UK Government and Parliament petitions – has a six month window for signatures from the date it went live. The petition closes on 20 January 2021.
So far, a total of 162 petitions have received a formal response from the government; just 13 have secured a debate in parliament.