Civil Service Compensation Scheme/Work o the Cabinet Office - Public Administration Committee Contents

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 they have:

    — 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    — Stated that the legislation will only be repealed or withdrawn if an agreement with the trade unions is reached.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to cap payments to a maximum of 12 months pay for compulsory severance and 15 months for voluntary severance should be withdrawn before negotiations can properly begin.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.

July 2010

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