10 May 2010
After months of negotiations with the unions without reaching an agreement, the Cabinet Office announces plans for “reform” of the civil service compensation scheme.
PCS responds by saying the new terms would amount to the loss of tens of thousands of pounds for many civil servants if they were made redundant.
The union warns that the cuts proposed would make it easier and cheaper for the government to cut more jobs and privatise more of our public services.
The union also announces it had received detailed legal advice and was considering applying for a judicial review to halt the process.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka describes the plans as “a disgraceful attempt by the government to replace a fair, negotiated right to decent compensation with a bargain basement pay-off at a time of massive insecurity over jobs”.
An emergency motion opposing cuts to the compensation scheme receives unanimous backing at the TUC annual congress.
Moving the motion for PCS, Mark Serwotka says: “It is clear that it is not just the civil service that is affected by this, but the rest of the public sector. The prime minister on Tuesday raised the prospect of cuts in payouts for other public sector workers when he called on all public authorities to make similar reviews of their terms.
"We must therefore stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to stop the government from cutting jobs on the cheap.”
Almost half of the 18,000 people who respond to the government’s official consultation over the changes copy PCS into their emails.
In addition, 35,000 PCS members attend workplace meetings organised by the union expressing their opposition to the government’s proposals, and more than 1,000 people contact their MPs using the campaign email tool on the PCS website.
Following the consultation, the Cabinet Office unilaterally announces revised plans for the scheme despite ministers having instructed officials to meet PCS and other civil service unions again to discuss our concerns. In the previous two months, four scheduled meetings were cancelled.
After pressure by the union and the thousands of responses to the consultation, the new plans represent a limited improvement – to cap payments at three years or £50,000, instead of two years.
PCS announces its intention to launch a judicial review and a strike ballot among its 270,000 members in the civil service and related agencies.
The union announces that 105 MPs have now signed a parliamentary motion opposing the cuts to the compensation scheme.
Early day motion 251, tabled by Katy Clark, expressed "deep concern at proposed changes to the civil service compensation scheme".
PCS announces members will be balloted for industrial action. The ballot will run from 4 to 25 February.
The union announces its intention to take industrial action after strong support in a ballot which sees 63.4% of those voting backing strike action and 81.4% supporting an overtime ban.
More than 100 PCS representatives from across the UK lobby their MPs over cuts to the scheme. A pre-lobby rally, chaired by PCS president Janice Godrich, is addressed by MPs John McDonnell and David Drew MP PCS general secretary and Mark Serwotka.
Around 200,000 PCS members take strike action on 8 and 9 March. Highlights include:
PCS reps and officials take a battle bus tour of key sites in London, including civil service minister Tessa Jowell’s Dulwich and West Norwood constituency.
The bus also stopped outside the headquarters of Unison, where that union’s general secretary Dave Prentis showed his support alongside Bob Crow (RMT), Chris Blower (NUT), Sally Hunt (UCU), Gerry Doherty (TSSA), Matt Wrack (FBU) and Michelle Stanistreet (NUJ).
Chancellor Alistair Darling crosses two pickets – one at the Treasury and one at Houses of Parliament – on his way to the Commons to deliver his budget.
Again, about 200,000 PCS members join the strike, which in some areas is better supported than the previous two-day action.
On the day the amendment to the compensation scheme comes into effect, PCS announces that almost half of Labour’s backbenchers have now signed early day motion 251.
[The final tally of signatories before parliament was dissolved for the general election was 176 MPs, 121 of whom were Labour]
The union takes battle buses around some key ministerial constituencies across the UK, starting with a London tour on 20 April that included Tessa Jowell’s constituency. Other events include:
PCS takes its legal challenge against changes to the compensation scheme to the High Court with a two-day judicial review hearing.
The union’s case is that because the changes are detrimental to existing civil and public servants, the government had no authority to amend the scheme without the agreement of PCS – by far the largest of the civil service unions.
Mr Justice Sales rules the changes unlawful and quashes the amendment.