A 'properly staffed' civil service and a fair pay rise: Union outlines demands for next government

PCS charter also calls for more resources for Home Office and HMRC
PCS members on strike last year. Photo: Amanda Rose/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

13 Jun 2024

PCS – the civil service's biggest union – has announced its demands of the next government, including a return to national collective bargaining for the civil service, pay restoration and an inflation-proof pay rise.

The PCS charter, aimed at parties and candidates, also calls for the incoming administration – whichever party it is – to embrace hybrid working and to commit to “a properly staffed civil service”.

At the union's annual conference last month, its delegates voted for a change in direction to the union’s strike strategy, which included demands for a boost to the civil service headcount of 100,000 staff, in stark contrast to the current government's plan to reduce it by around 70,000.

The charter specifies that the Home Office and HM Revenue and Customs need more funding. For the Home Office, it calls for investment “to ensure adequate support is given to those who are entering the UK”. And it asks for HMRC to be “adequately resourced” to tackle the tax gap, an issue on which Labour and the Lib Dems have both made commitments.

The charter also urges the next government to reverse the outsourcing of facilities-management roles in government departments.

The list of demands covers pay, jobs, hybrid working, pensions, insourcing, benefits, taxes, migration and trade union rights.

Announcing the charter, PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said: “The previous government has consistently attacked civil servants, making our members scapegoats for ministers’ own failed policies.

“We call on the incoming government to stop using our members as political fodder to appease the right-wing media and treat them with the respect they deserve – and that starts with giving them a fair pay rise.”

In a statement introducing the charter, the union said: “Members will ultimately deliver the policy objectives of the future government, therefore it is vital during this period of election campaigning that potential candidates, and parties, are aware of our demands.”

The charter asks PCS members who wish to lobby their local candidates during the election to focus on the following asks:

  1. Pay – Return to national collective bargaining for the civil service, pay restoration and an inflation-proofed pay rise
  2. Jobs – Investment in the civil service, including a properly staffed civil service, helps every community in the country and ensures successful day-to-day functionality of government
  3. Pensions – Commitment that civil servants will secure pensions justice and an immediate review of state-pension age
  4. Hybrid working – Civil servants have continued to fulfil their roles to an incredibly high standard, with increased productivity, when given access to hybrid working. Future government must acknowledge the changing world of work and the need for flexibility.
  5. Insourcing – PCS has led campaigning efforts to bring workers back into the public sector, supporting members employed in facilities management across government departments to challenge poor private employers. Insourcing should be a key commitment of any future government, giving these valued workers the same rights and opportunities as their civil service colleagues.
  6. Social security – a system with support at its heart. Universal Credit is a dangerously flawed system, the most vulnerable continue to slip through its cracks and our members are the scapegoats for over a decade of social security failures. We need a system which supports the individual and does not demonise those who cannot work.
  7. Tax justice – With the current tax gap estimated to be over £40bn, it is time for a future government to invest in HMRC and ensure those who can pay more, do. Big business and the top 1% must pay their fair share and HMRC must be adequately resourced to ensure that the gap is reduced, and the public finances are restored off the backs of those who can and should pay more.
  8. Safe passage – a policy which has broad support and will help to stop the boats in a humane and safe manner. Investment in the Home Office to ensure adequate support is given to those who are entering the UK, allowing them to contribute to society quickly. Working with our European partners to establish the policy and protect the most vulnerable. A future government must build on this policy, work with PCS, Care4Calais, and others to ensure the asylum system is reformed.
  9. Trade union rights – Repeal all anti-trade union laws in the UK. Working with trade unions to ensure democracy, fairness and access to a union is paramount in the world of work. Implement electronic balloting for trade unions and a return to adequate facility time for trade union activists.

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