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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Praise but no raise

by New Worker correspondent

THE THREE main civil service trade unions have united to condemn Government proposals to set a low limit on pay rises this year despite their members going above and beyond the call of duty in the Department for Work and Pensions, Customs and Revenue, the Home Office and many other departments.

At a time when inflation is running at 2.6 per cent ministerial guidance is that pay rises will be in the range of 1.5–2.5 per cent, which the mathematically minded will note is an effective wage cut.

Speaking for PCS, the largest union, General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is an outrageous swindle that ministers have embarked upon by offering our members a pay cut in return for their Herculean efforts during the Corona pandemic. It shows the hypocrisy of ministers who on the one hand, applaud and praise public sector workers but do not think they are worthy of a genuine pay rise.”

He noted that PCS has worked hard to make sure members are kept safe and where possible working from home to support people accessing benefits, dealing with taxes, supporting businesses and workers in the furlough scheme, and protecting our borders.

Further up the food chain, Prospect’s General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “Responding to an economic shock on this scale with more austerity and pay cuts for public servants would be like throwing water on a chip pan fire.

“Slashing the wages of the public servants who have helped us through this crisis would not only be immoral, it would only make the situation worse, leading to a spiral of cuts and unemployment that will hamstring Britain for a decade.

“Ministers must ignore these proposals and focus government attention on saving jobs, supporting incomes, and getting the economy firing on all cylinders once it is safe to do so.”

Speaking for the mandarins at the top of the tree, Dave Penman, General Secretary of the FDA deplored that fact the ministers refused to follow their advice to make a single Civil Service-wide offer this year instead of time-consuming individual departmental negotiations, saying: “It is unfortunate that the Minister did not take up our offer of a single settlement, and it is clear that civil service pay arrangements still fall woefully behind the rest of the public sector, having remained largely unreformed for a quarter of a century. That said, we welcome the recognition of the extraordinary work of the civil service and desire to see timely settlements this year.”

It does not seem to have dawned on him that a ‘reform’ of the Civil Service under Boris Johnson might not be entirely desirable, rather than permit a slight lifting of the 2.5 per cent limit he hoped to breach.