Collated info on the CSCS (7th March 2010):

In August 2009 the government announced plans to reform the Civil Service Compensation scheme in such a way that it made it look the Trade Unions had agreed to the terms.  Although the Trade Unions and the cabinet office had been in negotiations since the previous autumn no agreements had been reached.

Since August the negotiations were still ongoing and concessions had been made on both sides, with PCS showing other ways that money could be saved.

Then at the beginning of February 2010 the new terms and conditions were published and imposed whilst the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) were still in negotiations.  This was done because the other 5 Trade Unions had agreed to the new terms.  The other Trade Unions had done this without consulting their membership.  The Government were then able to use this as propaganda making out PCS to be the bad guys and trouble makers.  PCS actually represent over 80% of Civil Servants far more than the other 5 unions combined.

PCS decided to ballot their members on whether they were willing to go on strike and if they were willing to take action short of a strike.  The latter means working exactly to your terms and conditions and not doing any extra or work overtime.  Both questions received a yes vote.

Then of course there was the usual spin and allegations coming out of the Cabinet Office followed by PCS rebuttals.  Links to the main ones can be found on the following page.

On 3rd March 2010 as part of the campaign PCS members from around the country attended a mass Lobby of Parliament in order to gain support from their MPs.  The lobby was preceded by a briefing in Westminster Hall, although I attended on the day I was only present for half of the briefing.

In the briefing my colleagues found out that:

  • The Judicial Review is being stalled by Treasury Barristers not being available in March.
  • Next Tuesday the Welsh Assembly is being closed since Labour Welsh Assembly Members have voted not to cross the PCS Picket Line!
  • The government has denied MPs a vote on these changes which are aimed at cutting jobs on the cheap. Instead the government has relied on an arcane parliamentary procedure to avoid any debate, discussion or vote to change the law.
  • Delegates heard how some of the Permanent Secretaries had sabotaged negotiations by cancelling 4 key meetings before Christmas and misleading Tessa Jowell the Cabinet Office Minister into believing that the new CSCS terms were fair for all. This clearly then spilled out into the briefings sent to MPs in their House of Commons pigeon boxes.

After the briefing we found out that none of the Shropshire MPs received the green cards we had filled in calling them to the central lobby.  We met one of the MPs because one of my colleagues had texted him earlier to say we would be there, a second spotted us talking to the other MP and came over to see us and the third MP just happened to be walking through the lobby and we approached him.

We learned later that the cards hadn’t got to some of the other MPs either.

It was clear that the MPs we spoke to had been misinformed because they thought we were asking for more money when all we were asking for was a negotiated settlement which is fair for existing members.  After speaking to them, they all agreed with our position and are taking actions on our behalf.

Another MP overheard our conversations and told us that from a lawyer’s perspective he thought we had a very good case and would win the Judicial Review.

Further information:

Some of the points above were taken from a briefing by a colleague and mostly duplicates that I posted in the following blog post.

This is the link to the EDM that we were asking ministers to support:

The link for Civil Service Compensation Scheme posts on the PCS Shropshire site:

On the day we also learned why the other unions agreed to the terms without balloting their membership.  They were told that if they didn’t accept the revised terms they faced having the original proposals being imposed on them (the offer as it was before it was revised due to the negotiations).  This information came from an FDA briefing to its members on a retrospective ballot to accept the new terms and conditions.  You can’t see the document on line unless you are a member of FDA but you can see a brief statement on the FDA website.

Dave Penman, FDA head of operations, said: “The FDA was faced with making a decision on whether to agree the changes to the scheme or risk losing the significant concessions we had managed to negotiate.

“Faced with this unprecedented situation, the EC agreed the deal of behalf of members. On matters of this significance, the FDA has a long tradition of directly consulting members, but this was not possible because of the deadline the Government had set on laying the amendments to the scheme before Parliament. The FDA now wishes to give members the opportunity to express their view.”

This sums up how things stand on the on CSCS for now but of course this really started with the attack on the pensions in 2004/5 where PCS managed to negotiate to keep existing terms for current Civil Servants with new Civil Servants coming in on revised conditions.  But before that took place the government had offered two new pension schemes to Civil Servants directly suggesting the new schemes were better than the existing one.  I don’t think many people took them up on their offer which is what caused them to try and impose the new pension terms.

I wonder if news will be manufactured on the day so the strike doesn’t make the papers.  That is what happened last time all Civil Servants walked out, with the obvious intended effect of lowering people’s morale and resolution.

It isn’t really about ‘fairness’ (the word they keep using).  It is all about causing divisions and subjugating the people!

Update 2nd August 2010:

Following the above report the judicial review hearing took place on 22 and 23 April. On 10 May, the High Court ruled that the government had acted unlawfully when it introduced, without PCS’s agreement, a new scheme which cut members’ accrued rights under the CSCS.

It was time for PCS and the Cabinet Office lawyers to reach a settled agreement on the terms of the quashing order.  By this time the new government were in place and the two sides failed to reach an agreement so it was necessary to go back to court for the judge to set out in full what he had deemed unlawful in the amended scheme.

On 18th June the high court judge again ruled in favour of PCS:

“In his decision on Friday he made clear that all of the amendment scheme, with two small but helpful exceptions on age discrimination for those approaching and over 60, has been quashed as if it had never existed.”

Following the ruling PCS wrote to the cabinet office in order to restart negotiations and agree a fair and legal deal.  Although PCS had won in court twice they were still prepared for the government to undermine the decision or make an appeal against the decision.

The government’s response to the court ruling was to announce that it intends to change the law so that they can legally change the terms of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

“The new government unilaterally announced on July 6th that, although we had won our court battle, they intended to bring forward changes to the scheme this time   by introducing primary legislation. A bill laid before Parliament on 15 July the effect of which, if it become law will cap redundancy payments at a maximum of 12 months for compulsory redundancy and 15 months for voluntary redundancy.  Early retirement and severance packages will be costed so as not to go over the cap, including lump sums.

The Bill has been laid as a ‘Money Bill’.

A second reading of the Bill is required before the Bill can receive Royal assent. We know the government intend that Royal assent will take place around October. We are however seeking urgent legal advice on the process.”

The government have now indicated that they are now willing to enter negotiations on a limited basis in order to agree a new deal that is ‘sustainable and fair’. At the same time they portray PCS leadership as letting its membership down by not agreeing to the original deal offered by the previous government.  The government states that the reason that the new deal is not as good as the offer from the previous government is solely due to the PCS challenge.  They also fail to mention that it was a democratic ballot of all the PCS membership (who voted in favour) that led to the action taken and not just the decision of the PCS leadership.

It is a shameful tactic, used to cause divisions between the different unions, union members and between the public and private sector.  Unfortunately too many people fall for the spin.

8 Comments CherryPie on Aug 2nd 2010

8 Responses to “Civil Service Compensation Scheme – Latest”

  1. jameshigham says:

    Keep at it and victory will be yours.

  2. Can the tories come to power and not destroy a swathe of jobs? It’s going to be a crap few years for the Civil Service but fight we must.

  3. Chrissy says:

    I have never disliked my employer so much………….I cannot begin to articulate how annoyed and disgusted I am! And the people who will lose out the most are those that have been loyal and hardworking.

  4. Kernowman says:

    40 years working for the Government, and this is the way we are treated!