Civil service union election: vote Mark Serwotka but...

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2009 - 12:46 Author: A PCS member

The election for the General Secretary (GS) of the civil service union PCS has begun. AWL members in the PCS are recommending a vote for Mark Serwotka, the present incumbent. Our recommendation for such a vote is not because we are not uncritical of him; on the contrary.

In 2009 he was paid a gross salary of £85,421; resulting in pension contributions of £24,669; he also received Additional Housing Cost Allowance of £1,347; an additional Housing Cost Supplement of £449 and a beneficial loan interest of £748. According to the last set of union accounts he donated £4,000 to the fighting fund.

Therefore he has a remuneration package of £108,634 (£112,634 before the fight fund donation has been deducted). This compares to an “industry” in which 60% of full time permanent civil servants earn less than £25,000 (source: the PCS). Mark Serwotka’s pay is too high, and it shows just how far he has drifted from his activist roots.

That said, his opponent in the election, Rob Bryson has pledged to take all of the money and not donate any money back.

We support Mark because we recognise that Rob Bryson’s campaign is based on opposition to the union properly sticking up for members. He will oppose what we support, the need for a campaigning union. He will actually, if privately, welcome what we oppose, for example the PCS leadership’s spin and its on/off approach to national pay that sees us in a worse pay position than when Mark Serwotka was first elected.

The Government has announced changes to the civil service compensation scheme. This scheme regulates compulsory and voluntary redundancy and early retirement. Some concessions have been made; in particular the redundancy cap for those earning £15,000 or less has been increased so they will get a higher pay out than before. The concessions were forced by an unprecedented negative response to the staff consultation exercise. That said, most civil servants will still be worse off under the new scheme.

The PCS will now have to take legal action claiming that staff have reserved rights to redundancy entitlements already accrued i.e. if you have ten years service up to the time of the changes in the compensation scheme, then your redundancy payment should be calculated using the current rules rather than the new ones. But even if the union were to win that case, those with little service would gain little, and it leaves open the position of new entrants.

Under the two tier pension scheme agreed by the union, those in the newer pension scheme are not covered by the civil service compensation scheme in any case. At present we don’t know what arrangements have been made for them.

Rob Bryson has made clear in his election literature that he wants to do deals with the Government. Given that the Government, whether New Labour or Tory wants to slash the civil service then he is advocating accepting the cuts. Mark Serwotka is opposed to these slash and burn proposals.

Therefore in the context of a two horse race, and given the pedigree and racing form of the runners, we are in favour of a vote for Mark Serwotka.

Redundancy payments setback

The Government has announced changes to the civil service compensation scheme. This scheme regulates compulsory and voluntary redundancy and early retirement. Some concessions have been made; in particular the redundancy cap for those earning £15,000 or less has been increased so they will get a higher pay out than before. The concessions were forced by an unprecedented negative response to the staff consultation exercise. That said, most civil servants will still be worse off under the new scheme.

The PCS will now have to take legal action claiming that staff have reserved rights to redundancy entitlements already accrued i.e. if you have ten years service up to the time of the changes in the compensation scheme, then your redundancy payment should be calculated using the current rules rather than the new ones. But even if the union were to win that case, those with little service would gain little, and it leaves open the position of new entrants.

Under the two tier pension scheme agreed by the union, those in the newer pension scheme are not covered by the civil service compensation scheme in any case. At present we don’t know what arrangements have been made for them.

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