Hands off our future!

12 November 2009

There's been a lot of talk lately about attacks to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS). Wales YM convenor Chris Musgrave explains what it to young members.

The CSCS is a pot of money that pays out when you're made redundant or take early retirement. To qualify, your employer must be part of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS). Most PCS represented employers are. The government is proposing a raft of changes that seeks to cut money available to civil servants.

PCS has published lots of useful information on what the changes mean and who they affect. As the rights under the scheme are accrued with the number of years you work, many older members appear to lose out more, but what about younger members?

If you look at the here and now, we're unlikely to be seeking early retirement. But many of us will one day. If we allow these changes to go ahead, a hard fought for payment will disappear and our generation will be the first to pay the price.

State pensions may be a thing of the past within our lifetimes, so the CSCS may be all that stands between young members and abject poverty at the time of retirement. All of this may seem a long way away but closer to younger members is the threat of redundancy.

Further cuts

In 2004 Gordon Brown announced plans to axe 104,000 civil service jobs. The hammer has already fallen in most parts of the civil service. Already 100,000 of our members have gone. The threat to our members is not diminished after these cuts, with both the Tories and Labour gearing up for further cuts.

As the recession continues to bite, government budgets have been slashed. We will soon be at the point where departments will be forced to reduce their numbers, irrespective of workloads.

If you work in an area of the civil service that is considered ‘safe’, think again. Changes to the CSCS only provide limited protection for existing staff, in a compulsory redundancy situation until 31 March 2011. After this date it will be significantly cheaper to make staff compulsory redundant.

Even with cheaper redundancy packages it will be less costly to target those with the less service – mainly younger workers. The writing is very much on the wall if you look hard enough – no one will be safe.

The NEC has rejected the proposals and is determined to defend members' rights. PCS engaged in consulting members in a programme of workplace meetings across the union on your views about the CSCS and what campaigning action we should take. Now is the time for unity and solidarity across the civil service. It could be our pensions, pay, terms and conditions next.

* PCS has mounted a legal challenge to these proposals. The outcome is expected later this year. 7,441 PCS members’ participated in the consultation meetings. Over 18,000 PCS members have sent in their own responses to the consultation to the cabinet office directly. A special NEC meeting is due to take place to determine the next stages of the campaign.

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