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DETR staff fight performance pay: Dump Divide and Rule
PCS UNION members in Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) are having a day of action on 12 July against performance-related pay (PRP).
Mark Baker, PCS DETR (personal capacity)
Problems with the appraisal systems used to determine the level of PRP emerged three years ago. Management could not explain why different groups of staff were being marked significantly differently.
The union argues that with this bias, the PRP element of the pay award should be suspended and basic increases given to all staff. Management says they can't do this because performance pay is "government policy". But it is also government policy not to discriminate against staff on the basis of gender, race or disability, which is what the figures show is happening.
There are also differences in the awards made to staff in London and the rest of the country and between senior and junior grades. Union members have had enough of this discrimination and we're organising protests at DETR buildings around the country.
At our union conference the national executive (NEC) said that "PRP was dead in the water". It is true that PRP has failed and is widely discredited but senior civil servants are recommending "team-based" payments and "relative" awards whereby your performance would have to improve year on year just to achieve the same award. PCS remains opposed to divisive and discriminatory PRP and the NEC should fight to implement conference policy.
Members are also angry at the delays to the start of the negotiations. Despite the unions submitting their claim some time ago, management are waiting for all the appraisal markings to come in.
There are other aspects of the claim they could be discussing with us in the meantime and they already know about the likely breakdown over appraisal markings. These excuses are delaying tactics that we see every year. Members often don't get their August increase until Christmas.
Since the break up of national pay, there are over 200 bargaining units in the civil service. Each of these cannot agree anything without Treasury approval. This means that while the government retains control over negotiations, the union's position is fragmented.
Not only must members make sure they vote "yes" in the current ballot on the conference decision to return to national pay bargaining but we must make sure the NEC acts upon it.
A good turnout on 12 July will show that members in DETR are confident and determined to fight. The possibility of some forms of industrial action are also being considered by the PCS DETR group executive.
In The Socialist 7 July 2000: