Government workers are not impressed by the promise of “a future fair for all”. In April 2009 the prime minister declared that their redundancy agreement in place since 1987 was too costly and would be replaced to save up to £500 million over 3 years and to ensure fairness for the taxpayer.
Unions representing just under half a million civil servants and government industrial workers challenged these new unilateral terms. Payouts would be significantly lower at a time when redundancies are expected. Other attacks on conditions are happening too – pay increases are threatened by Labour competition with the Tories to cut public expenditure.
Direct consultation by the government last autumn saw overwhelming opposition to the proposals. On 2 February five of the unions reluctantly accepted revised terms, including a framework for avoiding compulsory redundancies. PCS, the largest union, has not accepted. It believes many members will suffer and that it can win better terms. A ballot for action will be followed by a lobby of MPs on 3 March.