The civil service’s biggest union has said it will go ahead with planned strike action this month despite welcoming what it called “significant concessions” from ministers on pay and conditions.
After ministers offered a £1,500 one-off payment to officials below senior civil service level in a breakthrough meeting on Friday, PCS said its national executive committee would take the rest of the month to consider the offer.
The union said it would “take stock of progress” in further talks with the Cabinet Office at the end of June.
In particular, PCS said it wants to ensure all eligible civil service employers have committed to paying the £1,500 on offer “without conditions”.
Since meeting with unions on 2 June, the Cabinet Office has updated its pay remit guidance for 2023-24 to say departments “are able to” award the non-consolidated payment.
While the cost of the payment can be met outside departments’ pay remit, the guidance says departments “must ensure that the further flexibility for non-consolidated payments is affordable within their spending settlements, and must be aware of the need to balance other budgetary pressures, with consideration of the wider economy and the government’s macroeconomic framework”.
In an internal memo on Friday, cabinet secretary Simon Case and civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm said departments “will be working to make this payment as early as possible”.
Senior leadership teams in each department would write to their staff “shortly” setting out next steps, they said.
However, CSW understands departments have yet to be issued with central guidance on the payment.
Case and Chisholm described the offer – which also included a commitment not to change redundancy terms until 2025, and to avoid redundancies where possible – as a “significant package of measures which recognises the critical role you all play in delivering the government’s priorities and brilliant public services to millions of people across the UK”.
“We hope that this will enable the current industrial action to be brought to an end, as we continue to tackle the challenges our country faces and make a difference to the communities we serve,” the memo seen by CSW stated.
PCS has urged its branches and groups to hold meetings in the coming weeks to “ensure the maximum discussion amongst members to ascertain their views”.
Industrial action taking place this month as part of PCS’s campaign over pay and conditions includes 15 days of strikes by Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency staff at 286 test centres across England and Wales, starting on 15 June; and a three-day walkout by Northern Ireland Office civil servants beginning today.
However, PCS said it had placed reballots on hold until the talks conclude.