Following a consultation, the government announced last month that it is pressing ahead with its plans to slash civil service redundancy terms. The Cabinet Office then wrote to all civil service unions (opens as PDF) offering talks, but only on the outrageous pre-condition that union negotiators accept, in advance, the cuts to civil servants’ redundancy terms.
While PCS, Whitehall’s biggest union, refused to sign up for the cuts to access the talks, along with POA and Unite, the FDA, Prospect, the GMB, Unison and the Defence Police Federation agreed to the punitive terms. These unions have, according to the Civil Service World website, now written, to the Cabinet Office calling for the implementation of the programme to be delayed to allow new Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer time to settle into the post and for more certainty about Whitehall’s staffing requirements in the wake of the Brexit vote to emerge.
The parameters, set out in a June letter from civil service workforce strategy and inclusion director Simon Claydon, were cutting payout tariffs to three-weeks wages for every year of service, down from the current one month; reducing the notice period for compulsory redundancy to three months, down from the current six months; and limiting payouts for both “voluntary exit” and “voluntary redundancy” settlements to 15 months salary, down from 21 months.
We believe it is frankly outrageous for the Cabinet Office to require unions to sign up to the cuts before joining the talks. This does not constitute a genuine negotiation, and it’s disappointing that unions that represent a small minority of civil servants appear to have agreed to this. We saw in the pensions dispute how damaging it is to civil servants’ terms and conditions to have some unions peeling away from a united position.