Socialist Worker

Row brewing over civil service workers' pay agreement

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2133

A serious situation is developing over pay in the civil service. The PCS civil service workers’ union and the government recently reached an agreement over pay.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, has written to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka stating that “efficiency savings” in departments and other bodies can be used for pay in the same area.

But it was revealed at a PCS pay forum before Christmas that Dusty Amroliwala, director of the civil service workforce, had written to human resources managers throughout the civil service on 12 December.

Amroliwala wrote, “Departments that have or are in the process of agreeing, implementing, negotiating or imposing their pay awards should not delay setting the 2008-9 or multi year pay arrangements for staff, whether by agreement or imposition.

“Neither should departments offer or agree with unions to re-open existing settlements nor interpret the contents of Sir Gus’s letter as a barrier to implementing multi-year deals over the 2008-11 period.”

This is a clear betrayal of the hopes that were raised in the pay deal recently.

He adds, “Expectations among unions and staff around pay increases for staff at the top of their pay ranges should be dampened.”

This advice could lead to many departments imposing below-inflation pay deals on their workers.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka has written to Amroliwala angrily asking the director to withdraw the letter. He says that the PCS “regards this guidance as seriously damaging to the agreement we reached.

“It has saddened me to see your disregard for the processes of dialogue the agreement should embody… All of this undermines the discussions we have been led to believe would take place on the release of money for improving staff pay.”

PCS activists are demanding that the letter is withdrawn and pay deals are revisited, despite the advice, and are improved.

Many are arguing that if departments don’t get a decent pay rise they should move towards taking industrial action, in coordination with other departments if possible.

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Tue 6 Jan 2009, 18:40 GMT
Issue No. 2133
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