High Court judgement confirms the farce of delegation 

24 Oct 2018

PCS is disappointed to learn our joint judicial review application on the pay remit guidance consultation with the FDA and Prospect has failed.

As a result, we are demanding a meeting with the government’s chief people officer, Rupert McNeil, to address matters arising from the judgement.

Following the publication of the 2018 Treasury pay remit guidance, the document that determines the pay of workers in the Civil Service and its related areas, PCS, alongside FDA and Prospect, launched a Judicial Review application of the process followed by the government. The High Court has today handed down its judgment. 

We had previously made representations to the minister for the Cabinet Office, David Lidington that we had been promised consultation on the pay remit figure but that such consultation had not materialised. The minister had apologised for the process that was followed.

Disappointingly, the court has held that there was not a clear and unambiguous representation that there would be consultation and the judicial review application has failed.

Bad faith from the Cabinet Office

The court’s finding is based primarily on evidence submitted by the Cabinet Office as part of its defence. That evidence to the court revealed that:

  • Ministers accept that they did not carry out their intention of revealing the pay remit figure claiming, disgracefully and without any justification, that they were concerned that the unions would not respect confidentiality
  • Departmental permanent secretaries met in February and March and decided that the pay remit figure would be 1-1.5%. The unions were never told this and the employer hid that fact from us during four months of talks, claiming, laughably given the detrimental impact on industrial relations now that this fact has been revealed, that it was simply an exercise in maintaining relations. The fact that the permanent secretaries collectively made the decision on the pay remit figure makes a mockery of any pretence of national or delegated bargaining on pay. It also makes a mockery of the consistent, hand-wringing protestations from departments that, while they claim to value their staff, the government sets the pay remit figure and they are unable to do anything about it. 
  • On two occasions during the process, the minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington raised the question of revisiting the guidance in negotiations. He appears to have twice been advised by civil servants not to do so

These revelations have serious consequences for industrial relations within the civil service.

Civil service pay – a scandal

It is now clear from the Cabinet Office’s evidence to the court that they have never had any intention of consulting the Union’s on the pay remit figure. Instead, they have been engaged in a smoke and mirrors exercise. That bad faith is unacceptable on any issue affecting our members and it is particularly disgraceful for the Cabinet Office and for departments to engage in such skulduggery on an issue as important to our members as pay. Our members have suffered from pay restraint for the last ten years and they are struggling to make ends meet. To have their employer treat their struggle with such contempt is a scandal.

Pay bargaining – the future

PCS has long established policy of returning to national pay bargaining across the civil service and its related areas. The evidence before the court demonstrates that there is currently no effective mechanism in place that allows for the unions to collectively bargain on pay on behalf of its members and that situation will not be tolerated by PCS.

We will be pressing the Cabinet Office for an effective collective bargaining mechanism on pay at national level. We will also be working with our allies in the Labour party to campaign for such a mechanism – both the Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, have pledged to restore national pay bargaining following the election of a Labour government. We are also preparing the ground for a further national ballot for industrial action on pay in 2019 in the event that the Government does not change course.

We urge all members to get involved in our campaign.

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