18 May 2022

PCS calls on government to rethink mass cuts which will worsen UK lives

A demonstrably failed economic strategy which will only worsen the lives of UK people, is how PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka has described government plans to cut 1 in 5 civil service jobs.

PCS letters sent this week to minister for the Cabinet Office, Steve Barclay, and Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm, set out how the proposals to axe 91,000 jobs over 3 years, revealed by prime minister Boris Johnson in the media on Friday, would repeat terrible mistakes of the past. Mark wrote that “when mass job cuts have been announced and executed the consequences have been disastrous for public services in this country.”

He said that the cuts would be “seriously damaging to services to the public at a time when those services are struggling to cope with the demands of the pandemic and Brexit, as well as an economic downturn.” And described promises by the government to “build back better” after Covid as worthless.

Mark said making the announcement in the media displayed a “disgraceful lack of respect for civil servants.”

“It is a further example of the appalling treatment by the government of its own workforce when added to the derisory 2% pay increase at a time when many are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis,” he stated.

Greater resources needed

The letters highlighted that there is no detail of how these proposed cuts are to be delivered or when, simply an arbitrary figure announced that has no basis in reality.

Mark warned of repeating the mistakes of the past.

“In 2010, the then Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition embarked on a programme of austerity and the government attempted to make public sector workers pay the price – jobs were axed, pay was cut in real terms, pensions and redundancy rights were reduced and terms and conditions of employment were attacked. This was all done allegedly in the name of economic recovery,” he stated.

“The result has been over a decade of almost flatlining economic growth which is now set to turn into economic stagflation. Once again, the government is embarking on a demonstrably failed economic strategy which will only worsen the lives of the people of this country.”

Citing a whole plethora of government departments that are already under significant pressure to deliver vital public services, Mark said that “it is clear that the civil service needs greater resources, not Iess.”

Our annual delegate conference takes place next week when activists will consider our collective response to what Mark described as “the scandalous treatment of our members by this government.”

He concluded the letters by calling for urgent meetings with both men.

Our national executive committee met today to discuss the cuts and agreed an emergency motion, to be debated at our annual delegate conference next week, to build a campaign against the cuts and for increased resourcing to deliver adequate public services. The motion instructs the NEC to: “Use all means at our disposal to defend members’ jobs and public services, including industrial action when appropriate.”

Take action

Want to fight job cuts and campaign for better pay? Join PCS today.

If you are a member, get active in your union. Your first steps are signing up to go to our national conference in Brighton from 24-26 May and joining the TUC march in London on 18 June to call for a real pay rise.

Complete our campaign action to email your MP – which includes a model email which you can amend with extra information in your own words if you wish.