Unions launch legal challenge over civil service pay

9 Aug 18

Civil service unions have embarked on a legal challenge against the government over a failure to consult on their members annual pay rise, it has been announced.

Unions representing more than 200,000 civil servants are seeking a joint judicial review after they claimed that the government did not engage in a “meaningful” consultation before offering a new civil service pay cap.

The cabinet office and the Treasury offered the 2018 civil service pay guidance in June, which limited pay rises for civil servants from 1% to 1.5%.

But the Public and Commercial Services, Prospect and FDA unions are taking legal action because pay negotiations did not materialise.  

The unions seeking a judicial review said that government ministers did not engage sufficiently with the unions. They claim this was because the government feared the unions could not be trusted not to keep the 1.5% figure confidential during negotiations.  

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “To add insult to injury, the government’s defence of its shambolic consultation process on pay for hundreds of thousands of civil servants is that they never intended to consult us on the new pay cap and rushed the guidance out because they didn’t trust us not to leak the 1.5% figure.

“This, more than anything, demonstrates the perilous state of industrial relations in the civil service.”

Other public sector workers including teachers, the armed forces and prison officers were given a pay rise of up to 3.5% in July.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that this 3.5% pay rise would cost £800m annually.

Prospect general secretary said: “By refusing to consult in any meaningful way, the government has demonstrated a disdain not only for the unions, but for hundreds of thousands of loyal, hard-working civil servants.

“By treating civil servants differently and worse than those employed in other parts of the public sector, the government has shown how little they value their vital contribution.”

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This shambolic state of affairs cannot go unchallenged and we will now pursue this matter to the High Court.”

A government spokesperson said: “This year's pay guidance provides greater flexibility for civil service pay, striking a balance between rewarding our hard working staff while ensuring good value for the taxpayer.”

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