UK unions launch legal challenge over pay offer

By on 19/08/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Dave Penman, general secretary, FDA Union (Image courtesy FDA Union).

Unions representing civil servants have launched a legal challenge to the government’s proposed pay settlement, which offered an average rise of no more than 1.5%.

In June, the government announced that government departments will be able to make average pay awards for 2018-19 within a range of 1% to 1.5%. But unions the FDA, Prospect and PCS have launched proceedings seeking a judicial review of the award, claiming the government failed to meaningfully engage with them over the rise.

The pay increase for civil servants is less than that announced for other public sector workers for next year, including the armed forces (2.9%), prison officers (2.75%), teachers (3.5%), police and GPs (both 2%).

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “By refusing to consult on the remit guidance 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.”

Dave Penman, general secretary of civil service managers’ union the FDA, said the government had “failed to respond positively” to a letter sent in July warning of the prospect of legal action.

He said: “Instead, the government’s response appears to indicate that it never intended to consult the unions on the average pay awards being permitted, either at the meetings which took place or at those which were scheduled” but never held.

“In addition, they have indicated that they rushed out the guidance without the further meetings that they promised because they did not trust the unions to keep the information confidential during any information-sharing process.”

He added that the nature of the government’s response “lays bare the true state of industrial relations in the civil service,” arguing that the government is treating its own employees “as the poor relation in the public sector”.

A government statement released in response to the judicial application review said: “Civil servants do an outstanding job supporting the delivery of public services right across the country.

“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.”

Between them, the FDA, Prospect and PCS represent more than 200,000 UK civil servants.

About Colin Marrs

Colin is a journalist and editor with long experience in the government and built environment sectors. He cut his teeth in local newspaper journalism before moving to Inside Housing in 1999. He has worked in a variety of roles for built environment titles including Planning, Regeneration & Renewal and Property Week. After a spell at advertising industry bible Campaign magazine, he became a freelancer in 2010. Since then he has edited, local government finance publication and contributed news and features to Civil Service World, Architects’ Journal, Social Housing, management titles and written white papers for major corporate and public sector clients.

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