Members of the FDA union who work at the Ministry of Justice have rejected revised terms and conditions proposed by the department in return for a cap-busting pay deal that would be worth up to 11% over five years for some staff.
In a ballot that closed yesterday, 65% of votes cast by members of the union – which represents senior civil servants and other public sector leaders – were against the changes, formally known as the Modernising Employment Proposition (MEP).
The union’s demographic was the least likely to benefit from the changes, designed to address recruitment and retention issues and bring the department’s allowance system in line with the rest of Whitehall. However the PCS – which is the civil service’s largest union – yesterday called for its members to reject the deal in a ballot, claiming new flexibilities being sought involve the introduction of a longer working week, and that only 50% of its members would receive the headline pay rise over five years.
The Ministry of Justice defended the revised terms and conditions being proposed for staff, saying that MEP would result in a higher increase in basic salary for four out of five staff than would be the case under the current 1% annual pay cap arrangements. It said that 60% of staff would get a boost of at least 9% over the deal’s first three years and that staff working fewer than 38 hours a week would be able gradually increase their hours while those that did not want to could be paid pro-rata.
“The proposals will also help make the Ministry of Justice more attractive to potential recruits and improve staff retention,” a spokeswoman said.
Responding to the ballot result, FDA national director Victoria Taylor said members had been clear that the offer was not good enough.
“They are not prepared to tie themselves to a five year deal that demands they work extra hours, face a reduction in their terms and conditions, and in some cases a significant real terms pay cut,” she said.
“The proposed offer is extremely complicated but it is clear that staff can see it for what it is – robbing Peter to pay Paul – effectively continuing the pay cap for a further five years after nearly a decade of pay restraint.
“This was made all the more unfair when it became apparent that while civil servants in the MoJ were asked to continue with a pay cap, prison officers under the same secretary of state have been promised a 2.75% pay rise.
“It cannot be right to single out one group of staff to be rewarded and treat another group of staff as if they don’t matter – this is counter-productive. All members of staff working in every part of the justice system deserve to be rewarded and valued for the role they play in delivering a world-class service for the public.”
After a period of months when ministers have touted the end of the 1% pay cap for public sector workers that has been in place since 2012, which itself followed a two-year freeze, the indication that civil servants could be set for public sector’s lowest pay rise has been a growing source of resentment in Whitehall.
Earlier this month the PCS, FDA and fellow civil service union Prospect 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.
The PCS ballot on the MoJ proposals is due to run until August 30.