Unions call for jobs guarantee in huge government comms reorganisation

PCS says centralisation drive could put thousands of staff at risk and give No.10 "unprecedented control"
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka PA

By Jim Dunton

21 Aug 2020

The three main civil service unions have called on the Cabinet Office to guarantee that no jobs will be lost as part of a government communications centralisation drive, following the first of a series of meetings with officials over the plans.

According to the PCS union, the demand was one of several made in conjunction with Prospect and the FDA in relation to work on the centralisation plan, floated at the beginning of last month

The unions are also calling for non-civil service bodies to be taken out of the scope of the centralisation drive; for a pause to current recruitment plans for comms jobs; and for the right to be consulted on how the revamped Government Communications Service will operate. 

PCS said thousands of jobs could be lost if government departments were each forced to limit their comms staff to a maximum of 30. Currently there are understood to be around 4,000 staff working in communications across 20-plus departments.

“The centralisation of communications will hand unprecedented control to No.10, and lead to mass job losses if plans are not changed,” PCS said.

The union said it, along with Prospect and the FDA, had been told a programme timetable was being drawn up and the Cabinet Office hoped to begin building the business case for the new organisation soon.

“Officials confirmed that they had received audit returns from civil service and non-civil service organisations,” PCS said.

“These returns show the numbers and grades of communications staff potentially in scope. On the basis of the audit, the project team intends to have in-depth discussions with organisations as to future communications work. From that they will be able to derive staffing numbers.” 

When the centralisation plans were briefed at the beginning of last month, it was suggested that while four new director generals would be appointed to oversee government communications centrally, the new departmental restrictions would likely lead to a lower headcount across the profession.

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