The Department for Work and Pensions has said no staff will be paid their annual wage increases next month, including staff whose pay packages for the coming year have already been agreed under the employee deal that was negotiated to give junior staff boosts of up to 20% over four years.
The DWP has announced that pay increases for 2018-19 will be delayed because it has not yet received its 2018 pay guidance from HM Treasury.
But the Public and Commercial Service trade union has called for an urgent meeting with the department over the matter, arguing that there is no justification to delay payments “enshrined by the Employee Deal Collective Agreement”, which is not subject to Treasury sign-off.
The Employee Deal that was negotiated in 2016 allowed civil servants at lower grades to opt in to receive pay rises of up to 20% over four years, in exchange for changes to their contracted hours.
PCS said: “Members have rightly pointed out that one of the key ‘selling points’ of ED was the promise of pay increases being made on time with it being a four-year deal and not, therefore, subject to the usual constraints of the Treasury pay remit.”
In a statement released on its website, PCS said it expected DWP to find an “urgent solution” to allow money to be paid to the staff whose wages are not subject to Treasury clearance.
The union added: “If the delay in implementing the 2018 pay award element continues then we will obviously challenge this with everything at our disposal, as well as advising members of any impact it may have on the collective agreement and working patterns.
“It is currently premature though to envisage this situation continuing and obviously members will be entitled to receive backdated payments for any delay that does occur.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told Civil Service World that the union would be “putting the maximum pressure on the DWP to ensure their staff receive their pay rise by July”.
A PCS strike ballot, running from 18 June to 23 July, will see its civil service members voting on whether they want to engage in industrial action over the pay cap over the summer.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We’re committed to ensuring colleagues are paid as quickly as possible.”
The deal, negotiated by unions, the Treasury and former DWP permanent secretary Sir Robert Devereux, has been held up across the civil service as an example of the kind of solution that can be found on pay. The Treasury previously signalled that it might be willing to fund pay increases of above the 1% public sector cap, which has been in place since 2012 following a two-year pay freeze, in exchange for improvements in productivity. However PCS has now been told that the cap will remain in place with any increases to be found from within departmental budgets.
Devereux, interviewed by CSW earlier this year, described his success on being able to land a deal with both unions and the Treasury as: “Clever, eh?”.
He added: “The Treasury is a rational place and all I said was: If you want this benefit then the quid pro quo for it is [to address the fact that] at the moment all of my junior staff are paid less than nearly every other junior staff in the entire civil service. We spotted the right arguments to play at the right time.”