A rare victory for a union in the courts may not turn to be the success it looked at first. On 10 May the Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) won its case objecting to imposition of changes to civil service redundancy payments.
PCS had conducted strikes against the new terms, even though five unions had agreed to them. The ruling was that the government did not have the right to force new terms without the agreement of all. But the detail of the judgment may take away the gains PCS hoped for and bring it into conflict with the other unions.
The court reversed the changes and said that PCS and the Cabinet Office had to go back to see if they could agree what changes had to be made. This has unwound limited protection the other unions thought had been agreed. And it has paved the way for the new government to end the redundancy scheme completely. All unions will probably have to negotiate a new scheme – hardly an ideal time to do so.
Earlier this year the previous government forced through the new redundancy terms. Long negotiations ended with five unions agreeing under duress to changes, not being allowed to consult members under threat of the withdrawal of some concessions. They believed that they could go no further: PCS disagreed.
All unions will have to assess their position now that pay and conditions for the public sector are under review.