The civil service union PCS has announced that it is continuing to ballot its members over strike action, despite the announcement by the Cabinet Office that five unions have agreed to changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). The ballot, which is scheduled to close on February 25, is covering around a quarter of a million civil service workers across all sectors, including Jobcentre staff, tax workers, court staff and driving examiners.
The “agreement” reached by the five other unions (Prospect, FDA, GMB, POA and Unite) is a mixture of reserved rights for those over 50 and lesser rights for those under that age. These rights do not cover the young or those recruited into the civil service since 2007. The CSCS will reduce the amount of money available to those made redundant by up to a third, allowing employers to introduce job losses on the cheap; the PCS label this as cynical given that thousands of jobs are at risk over the coming years.
The PCS has never factored in support from these unions in terms of industrial, political or legal action; in other words the agreement by the five makes no difference to the PCS’s position or plans.
Of course senior managers in the civil service will make mischief and try to persuade members to vote “no” in the ballot by claiming that the union movement in the civil service is divided.
Unfortunately, on this issue, it has been divided from day one. The irony is that the five have only got a better deal (FDA and Prospect had wanted to agree the first offer made to them) through the actions of the PCS: launching a judicial review, rallying MPs (more than 130 of whom have backed an Early Day Motion in Parliament to re-examine the “disappointing and unfair proposals”) and announcing the industrial ballot. In other words, the pressure generated by the PCS campaign has made the Government offer further concessions.
Further pressure, in our view, can generate further concessions; that is why it is vital that members vote “yes” in the ballot. If successful, the PCS are hoping to hold a one day “all together” strike, followed by a week of one day strikes held by different elements of the PCS, emulating the recent CWU postal strikes.