PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has claimed that the Senior Civil Service would attempt to resist the implementation of policies of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.
In comments that were criticised by other trade union figures, Serwotka also hinted that staff in the Department for Work and Pensions were implementing the government’s Universal Credit welfare reforms “unwillingly”.
Writing for the website Labour List, the leader of the largest civil service trade union said Corbyn had an alternative economic vision for the country, with proposals for public ownership of rail, energy and the Royal Mail and investment in public services.
This was a “historic moment” that Serwotka said would “present a serious threat to the power of the few who have exploited the system so ruthlessly”. As a result, “those few who rule Britain and control our institutions, from the civil service and Whitehall to large corporations and the media… will seek to do everything they can to prevent radical systemic change”.
In comments that seemed to call into question the impartiality of the civil service, he added: “We must be prepared for resistance from the establishment and the appointed heads of the civil service who control the levers of power.”
Sewotka said the civil service should “play an important role in combating this concentration of power”, but added that PCS members working in job centres have to implement the government’s welfare changes such as Universal Credit “unwillingly”.
“Some 120,000 jobs have been cut from the civil service alone, and the 1% pay cap has meant PCS members are £3,000 worse off on average in real terms since 2010,” he said. “Public servants are suffering, yet they are forced to carry out the government’s agenda.”
PCS has around 200,000 members and represents many civil servants working at lower grades across Whitehall.
Serwotka’s comments drew criticism from other civil service trade unions.
Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, said that the UK civil service was renowned for its impartiality and determination to serve the elected government of the day.
“Those who make unfounded allegations damage our public institutions and those who serve them and also undermine public support,” he said. “Prospect will always champion the professional values of our civil service and those who serve in it – we would expect others to do the same.”