1 July 2021

2021 pay talks in Efra: fairer pay, not a pay freeze

Each year PCS is drawn into dozens of different sets of pay talks across the public sector, ending up with workers facing different pay rates for similar work depending who their employer happens to be. 

This even happens within our own department, with colleagues in Natural England, core Defra and JNCC, for example, all being paid at different rates. We’re demanding sectoral pay in this year’s pay talks

For decades now we’ve called for pay bargaining to take place in one set of negotiations, leading to one fair rate of pay across government. In this year’s pay negotiations, we’re taking the first step towards this, asking permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein for uniform sectoral pay rates and coherent terms and conditions across Efra Group employers except Forestry Commission and Kew Gardens.  

Defra argue that NDPBs are legally separate employers, which means they will have their own pay negotiations.  PCS do not accept this. NDPBs like all other parts of Defra come under the remit of the Secretary of State for Efra and they should be part of sectoral pay talks to harmonise pay across the Defra Group.

Sectoral pay means a fair pay rise to overturn the pay freeze

We have reviewed the current pay ranges in different Efra group employers and have proposed national pay rates

PCS has also asked for:

  •  A 10% cost of living rise on top of the single rate for each grade to make up for the real   terms wage cut the public sector pay freeze has imposed on us. Since 2010, the value   of civil service pay has fallen by between 8.8% (CPI) and 15.2% (RPI) and the average   civil servant is now £2,110 worse off a year.
  •  Annual leave to increase to at least 35 days per year on starting to work for Defra (and   no detriments to annual leave provisions people already have).
  •  London weighting of at least £5,000 (with no detriment to people entitled to more).
  •  A significant reduction of hours in the working week with no loss of pay.

We’ll be handling Kew Gardens and Forestry Commission pay separately

Forestry Commission and Kew Gardens, unlike all other areas of Defra, don’t just receive funding from Central Government. This means we are unable to include them in the sectoral pay claim for now and pay bargaining will continue with those employers under existing arrangements. This doesn’t mean we won’t be able to include them at some point in the future.

To win, we’ll need everyone

This will be a battle. The 2021/22 civil service pay remit brings austerity back from the dead with a “pay pause” arbitrarily imposed on public sector employees. This comes after a year when Efra staff have worked tirelessly to keep the country going throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, from securing food supplies to being drafted into coronavirus testing labs.  All the while continuing to deliver the services we have always delivered.

The more of us who are in the union, the more chance we’ve got of being successful. If you want to be more involved in the union’s campaigns on pay or connected to ensuring the safety of all staff then please contact your local rep or email leeds@pcs.org.uk.