Reforms spark civil service strike as HR staff face tough times

Civil service HR staff have been left “between a rock and the Treasury” by the continuing reforms that have led to tomorrow’s (Wednesday) planned nationwide strike, according to a government HR expert.

Jonathan Werran, director of consultancy at public sector advisory company Governetz, told Personnel Today that hard-done-by HR employees have an even tougher time ahead.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) across the UK are set to strike over job security, pay and privatisation. The action stems from the dissatisfaction civil servants feel about reforms that have been taking place since the 2004 Spending Review.

The government set out in the 2004 Gershon Review plans to achieve £20bn savings over four years by slashing more than 80,000 civil service jobs, relocating 20,000 roles from the South East, and making other efficiency gains.

Werran said: “HR has been slap-bang in the middle of all this, stuck between a rock and the Treasury. It has not had the scope to change too much.”

HR professionals should be ready for a long, drawn-out battle, he added.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “If the government is going to avoid ongoing industrial action, then it needs to give assurances over jobs, services and privatisation, as well as making serious headway in tackling pay inequalities and low pay rates in the Civil Service and related government agencies.”

Werran said: “In the future, HR managers face more of the same. There will be no extra funding. There will be lots of pain for HR staff in delivering joined-up government.”

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