Civil Service strike threat after Cabinet Office plans to overhaul redundancy compensation scheme

A Civil Service strike is looming after the Cabinet Office yesterday confirmed plans to overhaul its compensation scheme for workers made redundant.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) is to start a strike ballot tomorrow of 270,000 members working for the Civil Service and its related bodies over the changes.

The ballot, to run until 25 February, follows yesterday’s confirmation that redundancy packages will be cut from up to three years’ pay to as little as 24 weeks’ pay to mirror private sector levels and to save £500m over three years.

The PCS said it will also lodge papers today for a judicial review, arguing that the changes – due to come into effect in April – need to be implemented through agreement with the trade unions rather than imposed.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “We had hoped we could avoid a strike ballot, but the government and the Cabinet Office’s insistence on ploughing ahead, combined with their unwillingness to find an agreement, has left hard-working people feeling let down and betrayed.
“The government and the Cabinet Office can still avoid a damaging dispute and legal action by negotiating an agreement that defends existing members’ entitlements.”

Plans to overhaul the redundancy scheme for workers made redundant gained the backing of five trade unions – including Prospect, GMB and Unite – after 18 months of consultation, and the Cabinet Office urged the PCS to follow suit.

Gus O’Donnell, head of the Civil Service and permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, said: “I believe the decision by the PCS union to continue opposing the proposals and ballot its members for industrial action is wholly misguided.”

He added: “I would therefore urge PCS members to think hard about how to vote. Industrial action can only damage the services we provide to the public.”

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