Mon, 28 November 2022

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Fresh pressure on Philip Hammond as Whitehall unions reject 'shambolic' pay plan

Fresh pressure on Philip Hammond as Whitehall unions reject 'shambolic' pay plan
3 min read

Chancellor Philip Hammond is under fresh pressure to ditch his hardline stance on public spending after all three civil service unions rejected "shambolic and contemptible" Treasury plans to keep their pay capped.

Ministers last year vowed to ditch the 1% limit on public sector pay rises that has been in place since 2012, and NHS staff have now been granted a 6.5% rise over three years.

But new guidance published by the Treasury this week says civil servants will have to make do with average below-inflation rises of between 1% to 1.5% over the next year - prompting fury from the three Whitehall unions.

In a statement released today, the PCS union - which represents rank-and-file staff and is currently mulling strike action over pay - branded the guidance “unacceptable” and said it would mean government staff were worse off than other parts of the public sector.

General secretary Mark Serwotka added: “This show of strength by civil service unions has underlined to the government that they cannot continue to treat our members like second class staff. They need to sit down with us and negotiate a fair pay rise, just like they have with other public sector unions."

Prospect chief Mike Clancy said the united front from the unions - who are often at odds over their approach to talks with the Government - was a “watershed moment” for ministers.

PoliticsHome’s sister title Civil Service World meanwhile reported that FDA General Secretary Dave Penman - whose membership includes senior mandarins - had told members the Treasury’s hardline position "cannot be allowed to continue", and blasted the lack of talks as "shambolic and contemptible".

CSW reports that all three union bosses met David Lidington and Oliver Dowden last night to raise their objection to the Treasury’s plans - are are now demanding that the Treasury goes back to the drawing board and comes up with better proposals.

Labour said the move by the three unions was "further evidence of this Conservative Government riding roughshod over our hardworking public sector workers".

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd told PoliticsHome: "It is a shameful state of affairs when Ministers cannot even be bothered to properly consult civil servants on their future pay. Ministers should now listen to the civil service unions and immediately withdraw the current pay remittance guidance and undertake a fresh consultation.

“It is high time the Chancellor recognised the human cost of his disastrous pay cap and commit to giving our dedicated civil servants the pay rise they deserve."

The move comes amid growing Cabinet splits over public spending after the Treasury agreed to pump an extra £20bn-a-year into the NHS by 2023.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is reportedly calling for a cash boost of up to £4bn for his department, while Home Secretary Sajid Javid has vowed to “prioritise” extra money for the police in talks with the Chancellor.

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss poured cold water on those demands this week, saying it was not “macho” to ask for public spending increases.

A Government spokesperson said: "Civil servants do an outstanding job supporting the delivery of public services right across the country.

“This year’s pay guidance provides greater flexibility for civil service pay, striking a balance between rewarding our hard working staff and ensuring good value for the taxpayer."

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