Prospect calls off civil service strikes after £1,500 cost-of-living boost

But PCS says plans to pay part-time staff a reduced rate are “unfair” and demands Cabinet Office talks
Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy

By Jim Dunton

04 Jul 2023

Civil servants who are members of the Prospect union will end their national strike action over pay after the government tabled an improved offer featuring a £1,500 cost-of-living lump-sum payment for 2022-23, leaders have confirmed.

Prospect, whose members include professionals such as scientists and engineers, voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a ballot on pay that closed earlier this year. They staged their first coordinated national strike in the dispute in March.

The union said the government’s offer of a non-consolidated cost-of-living payment for last year, coupled with a moratorium on any changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme until 2025 and a commitment to avoiding compulsory redundancies had been a game-changer.

General secretary Mike Clancy said the improved offer – tabled last month to build on April’s proposed 4.5% rise in 2023-24 for departmental officials below Senior Civil Service rank – had only been secured by the “determination and fortitude” of union members.

“This improved offer shows that unions matter and when we work together, we win: on pay, on redundancy terms, and on job cuts,” he said.

“We may have won this dispute, but our work to rebuild a civil service that properly recognises and rewards the skills and experience of its workforce after a decade of cuts continues.”

Prospect said individual branches would now consider the government’s offer locally, with a central recommendation to accept and end the industrial action. However it acknowledged the potential for further issues to arise.

Civil service leaders’ union the FDA called off its strike ballot last month after the improved pay offer was tabled.

Pro-rata plans cause ‘enormous concern and anger’

PCS, the civil service’s biggest union, said yesterday that it is seeking “urgent talks” with the Cabinet Office over departments’ plans to offer lower cost-of-living payments to staff who do not work full time and the introduction of other “unnecessary and restrictive eligibility requirements”.

In a letter to Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said departments’ plans to make the cost-of-living payments on a pro-rata basis to part-time staff had caused “enormous concern and anger” among members.

“It is clear that the payments, which are unconsolidated lump sums unrelated to salaries, should be paid at a flat rate to all employees regardless of working hours,” Serwotka said.

“Part-time staff are suffering the same rates of inflation as full-time staff and have the same food and fuel bills to pay.”

He said pro-rata payments would result in the lowest-paid staff receiving the least money in their pockets despite the one-off payment.

“If the lowest paid are not receiving what they have been led to expect and will be treated less favourably than higher paid staff, it is difficult to see how they would regard this as fair and reasonable,” he said.

Serwotka added that a requirement for staff to have been in post on 31 March 2023 to receive the £1,500 payment would exclude some officials who had effectively worked all of the 2022-23 financial year from receiving the payment if they left their job on – or shortly before – that date.

Quin applauded Prospect's decision to end industrial action at a national level.

“This follows our productive discussions and is a positive step forward in ensuring that public services are not disrupted,” he said.

Civil Service World sought a Cabinet Office response in relation to PCS’ concerns about part-time staff receiving a reduced cost-of-living payment.

It said pro-rating was a matter for individual departments and “consistent with approaches in other areas of the public sector”, such as the NHS.

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