A pay debate is coming in the civil service. The civil service workers’ PCS union group executive representing members working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has voted by 17 to nine to recommend a package of proposals on pay and working conditions.
Socialist Workers supporters voted to reject the offer.
The DWP’s offer means significant pay improvements for the 60 percent of workers below the top of the pay grade. They will receive increases of up to 22 percent over four years, and this is to be welcomed.
The problem is that for everybody else increases are to be held to between 1.3 and 1.6 percent year on year.
And all the increases are linked to serious strings. Normal working hours (without special payment) will be 8am to 8pm and Saturday working will be part of the normal week.
Changes to mobility rules will make it easier to transfer workers.
DWP management are playing a clever divide and rule game, banking on lower paid newer staff voting for the detrimental changes to working conditions to secure the pay increases promised.
Older staff who have the least to gain in pay will be less inclined to think the money on offer is worth the detriment to conditions.
PCS has negotiated an opt out clause for workers to keep their existing contracts, but this will be on the basis they will receive a pay increase of just 0.25 percent for the next four years.
The offer also does nothing to redress the loss of earnings suffered by civil servants after eight years of pay increases capped at 1 percent under the governments of Gordon Brown, the Coalition and the present Tories.
PCS will now enter a period of consultation, followed by a ballot between 6tJune and 22 June.
The size of opposition at the GEC shows there is every chance of building a campaign for a no vote and for a serious campaign of industrial action in defence of working conditions and for decent pay increases for all.