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Monday 18th February 2013 | 15:10
Civil servants in the Department for Education have voted 63.3% to strike over plans for 50% cuts that threaten 1,000 jobs and six UK offices, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.
In a ballot of the union's 1,800 members in the DfE 63.3% of those who voted said they would be prepared to strike and 86.9% voted for other forms of industrial action, including working to rule.
Last autumn, following a review led by global management consultancy Bain and Company, the department announced it would be shedding more than a quarter of its workforce, going further even than chancellor George Osborne's required level of cuts.
The union believes education secretary Michael Gove is using the department as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service cuts.
The DfE's permanent secretary Chris Wormald was criticised by the Commons education select committee last month after it was revealed his senior civil servants played a game using party hats to share their plans for what to cut.
Last week it emerged that Bain and Company, brought in to work for free on a review of the department's structure, had been given a seat on a committee advising senior civil servants how to implement the review. The DfE also confirmed the company would be free to bid for any contracts that arise as a result of the restructuring.
The result comes as 250,000 of the union's members across the civil and public services are voting in a national industrial action ballot over cuts to pay, pensions and terms and conditions.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "These cuts are purely political and would not only mean misery for 1,000 of Mr Gove's own staff but also put at risk some vital public services, such as ensuring children are safe at school and supporting special educational needs.
"The news that Bain and Company has been installed at a senior level of the department ought to ring alarm bells. There are serious questions to answer about a conflict of interest, given it would be allowed to bid for future contracts after receiving such privileged access."