Civil service reform plan is 'built on sand'

19 June 2012

The civil service reform plan published today is "built on sand" because it is impossible to cut more than 100,000 jobs and improve services to the public.

The plan confirms the huge and unsustainable number of job cuts planned by this government, which means more use of the private sector, allowing profit margins to drive decisions about the provision of services instead of public need.

It will do nothing to address the major concerns of civil and public servants, that their jobs are being slashed, their pay is being cut and their pensions are being raided to pay off a deficit caused by the recession and bailing out the banks.

And instead of accepting that their political choices are making our economic situation worse and damaging the public services we all rely on, ministers appear to want to blame civil servants and claim that the answer is to cut the civil service down to record levels.

The My Civil Service Pension 'mutual' model mentioned by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude in his Commons speech has been imposed on an unwilling workforce and has led to staff there taking industrial action. A recent survey by a respected civil service newspaper found there was no appetite for mutualism among civil servants of all grades.

Watch Mark Serwotka tell BBC News: "We will stand up for the civil service, it's a crying shame the government doesn't try and do the same."

The most recent obvious example of the problems caused by cutting staff is the chaos at our borders and the knock-on effects across the rest of the UK Border Agency and the Home Office as senior managers continue to adopt panic measures to move staff onto passport checks from other areas such as customs and immigration casework.

Elsewhere, HM Revenue and Customs has faced criticism from an influential committee of MPs for ploughing ahead with plans to cut 10,000 more jobs by 2015, when the case for investment in tax collection is obvious. The 55,000 PCS members in the department will be on strike on Monday 25 June against these cuts and the threat of privatisation.

This month the union's 8,000 members in the Department for Transport - including staff in the 39 closure-threatened DVLA local offices, driving examiners and coastguards - are taking part in rolling strikes against cuts to jobs, offices and services.

The union is also central to ongoing national co-ordinated industrial action against the cuts to public sector pensions, which will mean civil and public servants having to pay more and work up to eight years longer for tens of thousands of pounds less in retirement.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This plan is built on sand because cutting more than 100,000 jobs and allowing the pursuit of private profit to dictate what we do is entirely incompatible with providing the kind of good quality public services that we all rightly expect and demand.

"Instead of seeking to blame civil servants, ministers should recognise that austerity isn't working and, far from making our economic situation better, it is their political choices that are causing misery for millions of people in this country."


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