Written evidence from Unite
This response is submitted by Unite, the UK's
largest trade union with almost two million members across the
private and public sectors. The Union's members work in a range
of industries including manufacturing, financial services, print,
media, construction, transport, local government, education, health
and not for profit sectors.
Unite represents approximately 20,000 members covered
by the CSCS across a range of organisations, including the MoD
agencies and Guards, prison services, Forestry Commissioning,
Royal Mint, Government Car Service and BIG Lottery Fund.
Under the previous Government all the trade
unions acknowledged that some changes to the CSCS needed to be
negotiated. This has remained the case. Unite supports a proper,
genuinely negotiated settlement to the dispute of how the CSCS
should be reformed. So far the actions of the coalition Government
have indicated that they are not seeking such a resolution. Instead
Unilaterally announced legislation to
overturn the High Court judgement which quashed the changes that
four of the trade unions had agreed to. Unite believe that making
such a unilateral announcement showed disregard for views of those
who would be detrimentally affected by the changes the Government
wants to make.
Issued a Cabinet Office memo on 18 June
making it clear that the CSCS terms would not continue in perpetuity.
The memo states that Accounting Officers should bear in mind that
cheaper terms are on the horizon so the value for money justification
for all exits in the short term needs to be considered very carefully
(this puts a heavy onus on departments and agencies to justify
any voluntary exits and makes any such exits very unlikely). It
also makes it plain that the coalition Government is determined
to implement significant cuts to redundancy terms.
Stated that the legislation will only
be repealed or withdrawn if an agreement with the trade unions
is reached. Enacting a threat of drastically reduced redundancy
payments before negotiations have even begun is a shameful tactic
to try and bounce trade unions and their members into a deal.
Unite believe the legislation tabled by the Government which seeks
to cap payments to a maximum of 12 months pay for compulsory severance
and 15 months for voluntary severance should be withdrawn before
negotiations can properly begin.
Unite believe that the actions of the Government
so far have demonstrated that they are not interested in reaching
a negotiated settlement that is fair to those covered by the CSCS.
Rather they wish to make it as cheap as possible to make dedicated
public servants unemployed as they try and impose swinging public
spending cuts. This motivation would have existed regardless of
whether a deal involving all the unions had been reached in February.
Unite believe the Public Administration Select
Committee may wish to scrutinise the actions of the Government
in undermining the basis for proper negotiated changes to the
CSCS and consider making recommendations that will enable all
parties to take part in meaningful negotiations.