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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 September 2009

Civil service compensation scheme: Thousands say no to cuts

Well over 6,000 civil servants have replied to the government consultation on their ironically named "fairness for all" package. They have told them exactly what they think of the swingeing cuts it proposes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS).

Robbie Faulds, PCS Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) group president, personal capacity

With a few days left to reply, that number is likely to increase sharply as Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union branches have begun holding members' meetings outlining the changes and the threat they present.

The anticipated savings made by the proposed cuts - falsely being claimed by the government as being aimed at the highly paid - would lead to low-paid civil servants having the worst redundancy compensation payments in the public sector.

A cap on the amount which can be paid in redundancy would see some members lose tens of thousands of pounds, as well as a loss of some pension enhancements where early retirement was offered.

With all the major political parties already trying to out-do each other with the cuts they would make to public services, the civil service is yet again stuck in the role of political football, with Lib Dem Vince Cable announcing he would freeze pay (despite several years of below inflation pay deals for many) and the Tories planning budget cuts of 10% almost across the board.

PCS members can see that the real dangers of the proposed cuts to the CSCS lie, not just in the immediate devaluing of their payments, but in the longer term. The proposals are designed to make it much cheaper to lay staff off, and greatly increase the risk of compulsory redundancies across wide parts of the civil service as the budget cuts take their toll on departments, as well as making it easier to privatise services.

It's also widely anticipated that a further attack will be made on pensions in the next government, whoever gets into power.

The series of members' meetings now being held are to ensure PCS members fully understand the government offensive which this is just the start of, and to seek their views on how to withstand it. The meetings will also be used to judge the mood of the membership, and their willingness to take action to defend the CSCS if required.

With a government in turmoil and an election looming, a solid show of determination by PCS members including industrial action if required, is needed to resist these changes and get them thrown out as soon as possible.

The TUC must act on the motion on this issue passed at Congress. They should encourage a massive show of solidarity across the public sector in opposition to making public sector workers pay for the cheats, crooks and liars who both caused the financial crisis and have been the major recipients of government largesse in responding to it so far.

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In The Socialist 30 September 2009:

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