The civil service’s largest union is calling on members who work within the Ministry of Justice to reject changes to their terms and conditions that underpin a pay-cap-busting deal put together by the department.
A five-year deal worth up to 11% for some staff has been tabled by the department, but it is contingent on new working hours flexibilities outlined in a “Modernising Employment Proposition” tabled by employers last month and subject to a PCS ballot that opened yesterday.
PCS said the deal – endorsed by the Treasury, and which follows in the footsteps of other bespoke arrangements created for other civil servants, such as staff in the Department for Work and Pensions – would result in the working week increasing to 38 hours for full-time staff as well as “regular” demands for Saturday and Bank Holiday working without overtime.
While the prospect of an 11% pay rise over five years is likely to appeal to civil servants worn down after eight years of restraint that have equated to the 1% cap at best, the union said it believed only half of its MoJ members would get the full 11% pay rise enshrined in the deal. It said those who were unable to increase their weekly hours and were “forced to go part time” would effectively get a pay cut.
“The flaw in the MEP offer is that it is largely self-financed,” the union said. “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 a vote to reject the MEP terms in the ballot – which is open until August 30 for online votes but which closes earlier for postal votes – would see the union attempt to reopen negotiations with the MoJ on pay.
“In addition to seeking improvements to the current offer we will also demand clarity from the employer on HMCTS reform, job security and terms and conditions of service,” it said.
An MoJ spokesperson 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.
“Eighty-percent of staff will receive a higher increase in basic salary than if we continued with 1% annual pay rises,” they said.
“The proposals will also help make the Ministry of Justice more attractive to potential recruits and improve staff retention.”
After a period of months when ministers have widely touted the end of the 1% pay cap for public sector workers that has been in place since 2012, following a two-year freeze, a civil service-wide deal of the likes seen by NHS staff and local government workers has been notably absent.
Earlier this month the PCS and fellow civil service unions Prospect and the FDA launched judicial review proceedings over the government’s handling of the consultation in relation to its departmental pay guidance for 2018-19.
The guidance, issued by the Treasury and Cabinet Office in June, limits pay rises for civil servants to a range of between 1% and 1.5%, less than increases offered elsewhere in the public sector.
- This story was updated at 10:50am on 17 August 2018 to include a response from the Ministry of Justice