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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 August 2018

Ministry of Justice workers angry at barrage of attacks

PCS members on strike, photo Paul Mattsson

PCS members on strike, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tessa Warrington, former PCS union MoJ member

Huge anger is being stoked up among staff in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) after the 'modernising employment proposition' (MEP) pay offer came as yet another in a long line of slaps to the face.

Staff have faced years of the public sector pay freeze, and declining living standards, with the MoJ being the lowest-paid department across the civil service.

Not only does this offer of an average 11% pay rise over five years (1%-3% a year) fall well short of the civil service union PCS' recommended 5% a year, but it is 'cost neutral' - meaning completely unfunded.

The money for the 'pay rise' would come only from changing the contract of employment in order to attack terms and conditions.

Staff would have to agree to an increase in the working week to 38 hours, stoppage of all overtime rates and compulsory working on Saturdays, bank holidays and evenings. Other allowances would also be cut like to motor mileage allowance and sick pay.

When I worked in the MoJ, the staff almost universally relied on being paid time-and-a-half for overtime to top up their wages.

Overtime was never short because the courts service was already severely under-resourced. In reality, MEP will mean a pay cut for them. Ex-colleagues have told me they are hopping mad!

The PCS MoJ group executive committee is rightly recommending rejection of the MEP and will ballot its membership.

The offer was made amid the national PCS ballot on pay in July and a majority of the 1,000 people who joined PCS during that time were from the MoJ. There is clearly a huge mood to fight on this issue.

After the failure of the national ballot to meet the undemocratic Tory anti-union thresholds, the bubbling situation in the MoJ is an indicator of the real mood and an opportunity to immediately push the Tories onto the back foot and inspire the rest of the union.

PCS in the MoJ should immediately start planning a strategy to campaign for escalating industrial action after the MEP ballot result, with a view to building this across the rest of the union and whole public sector. It's time to stand up and say 'Britain needs a pay rise'!

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In The Socialist 8 August 2018:

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