We can right these wrongs if we keep on building

Yet again civil and public servants have been monumentally betrayed on pay and pensions. But PCS is more determined than ever to right these wrongs.

The government’s pay remit guidance, which provides a framework for all civil service departments to set pay for 2019 to 2020, only provides central funding for a 1% pay rise, with a further 1% funded by departments that are able to find it. Awards above 2% can only be obtained through business cases funded by “efficiency savings”. All of that could mean staff being asked to agree cuts to their terms and conditions.

The best outcome is another pay rise below inflation, which is currently 2.1%. When other public sector workers have been given a pay rise, the government’s appalling treatment of its own workers is unacceptable.

Our recent industrial action ballot result fell short of the undemocratic 50% threshold, despite a record turnout and a huge vote for action. So we will now engage in departmental talks across the civil service and related areas and try to get the best possible deals. But your delegates to the union’s annual conference have agreed that we must continue to build our organisation in readiness for a further national ballot, which may be required at some point in the year ahead.

The government is also trying to rob you over pensions. Recently I met with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, to discuss the valuation of the public sector pension scheme.

That showed that you have massively overpaid for your pension and the government should have given you that money back. You should have seen a reduction in your contributions by at least 2% – meaning a 2% boost to your pay every month.

Outrageously, following the government losing a legal case to the Fire Brigades Union, Liz Truss massively overreacted and suspended all public sector pension valuations. I made it clear that after more than a decade of pay restraint, a 2% reduction in pension contributions isn’t an insignificant amount to PCS members.

Faced with disgraceful treatment by the government on pay and pensions it’s vital that we continue to build the strength of our union. You need a strong union to fight your cause, now more than ever. That means a union that is bigger, better organised and – most importantly – a union in which every member participates in its decision-making. 

This article first appeared in PCS People issue 2, 2019. 

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