The long running dispute between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union is likely to be settled before Christmas, Personnel Today has learned.
Members of the PCS have staged a series of walkouts this year over what it called 'poverty pay' and a controversial new appraisal system.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said he was "optimistic" that a settlement would be soon be reached. The union's general executive committee is due to discuss a revised pay offer this week.
An agreement would mark the end of a dispute in which both sides have traded bitter insults. Serwotka had previously described DWP management as "the worst in the public sector", and criticised it for imposing "the worst appraisal system ever devised" on staff.
The DWP responded by accusing the PCS of "misrepresenting" its offer, and saying the strikes were neither "justified nor necessary".
Both sides are now in a more conciliatory mood. The DWP stated it will engage constructively with its unions, and Serwotka emphasised the talks were entering "a more positive environment".
"If what I'm optimistic about comes through, it [the agreement] would be a pretty stunning achievement," Serwotka said.
The DWP admitted further revisions to the pay offer had been made, along with "significant" changes to the appraisal system.
The PCS has boosted its numbers by 16,000 in the DWP alone this year, and now has more than 100,000 members in the department.
Last Friday, tens of thousands of civil servants staged a one-day strike over Government plans to cut more than 100,000 jobs.