Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/378/4258
Civil service pay victory
Major concessions won in Department for Work and Pensions battle
AFTER EIGHTEEN months of struggle, including six days of national action, unofficial action, non-cooperation with the Performance and Development System (PDS), suspensions, work to rule and an overtime ban, PCS activists and members in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are entitled to feel a real sense of achievement over the pay offer that is rightly being recommended by the group executive committee (GEC).
Rob Williams and John McInally, PCS national executive committee members, report:
THE DEAL means major and substantial progress for members and represents a massive defeat and humiliation for DWP management, particularly for Permanent Secretary Sir Richard Mottram.
The successful campaign is a massive achievement for PCS - a solid testament to the determination of members to stand up to an arrogant and vicious management. It vindicates the strategy of the fighting Left leadership at both group and national level, who were prepared to lead members and stand up to the most anti-union management in the civil service. The GEC strategy of national action as the most effective method of exerting maximum industrial pressure on management has been proven to work.
PDS - broken beyond repair
THE SCALE of defeat inflicted on DWP management can only be fully appreciated by seeing how completely their reactionary plans for DWP pay have been smashed.
They sought to impose the Personal Development System (PDS) as part of a wider strategy to achieve individual pay and destroy collective bargaining. If successful it would have been a huge defeat for PCS.
It would also have meant PDS-type systems being imposed throughout the civil service and across the public sector. While defeating PDS was members' main objective, forcing the Treasury to break their 3.5% pay cap and, at the same time, making DWP management concede gains for the lowest paid is also a major step forward for all.
PCS has broken the link between basic pay and PDS at every grade. The hated Relative Assessment Panels are to be replaced by a local "Moderating meeting" and decisions need to be reasonable, fair, and properly explained. A full grievance procedure (which is retrospective) has also been secured.
The excellent non-cooperation campaign has done its job and the worst aspects of PDS have been beaten. It would be wrong to squander the sacrifice and efforts of members by failing to secure these concessions through rejecting the offer.
Treasury cap broken
THE DEAL breaks the Treasury pay cap of 3.5% for 2004 settlements, a real achievement in current circumstances and recognition of the strength of the union campaign.
The deal, which is for three years, is in overall terms worth 4.6% in the first year, and 4.1% in the following years. Management did not want to pay any underpinning to anybody but the deal guarantees an underpinning of £650 in year one and £600 in the next two years.
There is also a £100 lump sum for all satisfactory performers and overall guaranteed minimum consolidated pay increases for all staff of at least £1,850 over the three-year period.
In 2003 management imposed an offer that gave an increase of less than the rate of inflation, in this deal there is a 3% increase for those on the maximum, which protects against inflation. Management wanted to give 4% to those on the minimum but the deal has secured 5%.
Management wanted £60 million to be spent on non-consolidated, lump sum performance-related pay bonuses but PCS negotiators have reduced this to £21 million.
Campaign delivers gains for low paid
THE PAY campaign has exposed the low pay scandal in DWP and in the civil service generally. PCS has forced management to abandon their dismissive attitude toward low pay and begin to address it.
PCS has secured increases of 15% over the next three years for those on the minimum. While this does not go far enough - and there is still a very long way to go - it is a major step forward.
General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, who is endorsing the DWP group executive recommendation, is right when he states this dispute has shown PCS at its best - where a campaigning union stands up to serious management attacks through determined campaigning with industrial action and defeats those attacks and actually win concessions.
A strength of the union campaign has been the group executive's willingness to consult rank-and-file representatives. A meeting of branch representatives on 21 January endorsed the group executive's recommendation, by an overwhelming 80 votes to 16.
This struggle has strengthened PCS in DWP and nationally. The 17,000 new members recruited in the last year show campaigning is the best recruitment tool of all. It has been a landmark in the process of transforming PCS from right-wing business unionism to a fighting, democratic organisation capable of defending and delivering for members.
In The Socialist 29 January 2005: