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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Civil Service and other pay

by New Worker correspondent

THE THREE main Civil Service unions have united in opposing the Government’s recently announced pay framework, the Pay Remit Guidance, which applies to all UK departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies, and formally excludes the devolved assemblies.

The framework for 2022/3 limits pay rises to two per cent, plus an additional one percent if a case can be made to the relevant minister and linked to “workforce strategy”. That will probably involve job cuts which would allow a very modest increase. This is very similar to last year’s standstill. Civil Services unions are also facing renewed attempts to cut redundancy pay-outs by a third.

From the top of the Civil Service tree, the FDA argues that with inflation now averaging 7.4 per cent and likely to reach 10 per cent: “The approach from the government is essentially to ignore the cost-of-living crisis, which is already eroding the spending power of civil servants.”

General Secretary Dave Penman accused “Ministers, with their fingers in their ears, are trying to pretend it is business as usual”. The FDA says that the current system for dealing with civil service pay is broken and badly needs re- forming because is essentially a cost control mechanism for the Chancellor. He adds that the mandarins are underpaid in comparison to the private sector so the Civil Service will not be able to recruit enough senior civil servants.

Slightly further down the food chain the high castes’ union, Prospect, took a slightly firmer stance, saying of the guidelines: “Quite simply, that is a disgrace. The failure to even mention inflation and what is happening with earnings in the broader economy beggars belief and it will be rightly seen as either arrogant indifference or active cowardice to face up to what is happening in the wider economy and its impact on our members and the organisations they work for.”

Garry Graham, the Deputy General Secretary for the public services sector, deplored the fact that MPs have received a 2.8 per cent rise in the time that public servants have received less than half that. “How MPs can advocate lower pay increases for the staff who serve them than they themselves have received is beyond hypocritical,” he concluded.

a disgrace

Speaking for the lower ranks, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The failure of the government to recognise the cost-of-living crisis is a disgrace and shows utter contempt to our members, who have worked themselves to the bone during the pandemic. At a time when inflation is running at 5.5 per cent, food and fuel prices are rising exponentially, this two per cent offer is effectively a pay cut.”

Trade union leaders really ought to agree about existing inflation rates.

He also made the point however, that: “A government that can afford to write off £8.7 billion on unusable PPE – much of it given to party members and supporters – can afford to pay its workers a decent wage.”

PCS also added some important details about recent increases in essentials that will affect its members and other workers. At least £2,811 will be added to the budgets of a single person on an average PCS salary due to a food-bill increase of eight per cent, a massive 54 per cent for energy, a three per cent council tax increase, mortgage increases of 0.25 per and the National Insurance rise from the government. The proposed rise will amount to only £460, which amounts to a six per cent reduction.

What happens next re- mains to be seen, as it is very early days with no firm offers as yet.

Prospect said: “It’s time we took civil service pay out of the hands of politicians and gave it to an independent pay review body. MPs benefit from this process and have seen their pay increase far faster than the civil servants they rely on.” They could think about industrial action. Earlier last month PCS members have already voted by a majority of 98 per cent in favour of a claim for a 10 per cent rise, and by a majority of 81 per cent in favour of industrial action to secure that claim.

Local government and NHS union Unison have also demanded that government gives emergency help for hard-pressed working people as energy prices soar.

Pointing out that the cost-of-living crisis affects more than Dave Penman’s Permanent Secretaries, Unison’s general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government seems to have no idea of the enormity of the problems faced by ordinary people. They’re sliding into poverty in huge numbers while ministers simply sit back and watch. Hard-working people and families are desperate for a lifeline.

“Wage rises that outstrip inflation are a must. Unlike previous years, skilled workers have options and many will leave for better paid work if their employers don’t offer them a decent pay rise. For the public sector that’s a disaster if there aren’t the staff to maintain essential services. Their pay mustn’t be allowed to slip further behind the cost-of-living.”

Even the TUC has come to life over the issue. It is organising an urgent demonstration at Westminster, which takes place as soon as the middle of June. Even more urgently it is asking people to actually sign a petition demanding an emergency budget, a move which shows a touching faith in the Tory government having any interest in the working class, low-paid or not