Dai Hudd, Prospect Deputy General Secretary, said the agreement was reached after 18 months of intense discussion and negotiations. The terms agreed represented a significant improvement on those rejected by all the unions in early December, he said.
After discussions involving Tessa Jowell, Civil Service Minister, negotiations reopened and an improved offer was secured in January.
“Because it was not possible to reach a consensus to accept within the Council of Civil Service Unions, the five unions reached agreement to ensure that our members benefit from the enhancements and protections that the new terms provide.”
There was a very small window of opportunity to deliver a successful outcome, due to the parliamentary timescale for laying the scheme amendments, which the Cabinet Office intends to lay at the end of this week.
Prospect’s Civil Service Sector Executive considers that the new offer goes a significant way to resolving matters likely to be dealt with at any judicial review. Given the improvements secured, it considers it unlikely that industrial action would deliver better terms.
The civil service, in cooperation with Prospect and the other civil service unions, has developed a rigorous process to ensure that any reduction in jobs is handled wherever possible without resorting to compulsory redundancy, so far with considerable success. “However, no one is under any illusion about the enormous challenges looming for the civil service and the wider public sector,” said Hudd.
The improvements to the original offer secured by the five unions include:
- protection for members aged 50 or over with five years’ service up to the date of the change, who will retain compulsory early retirement terms for service to this point
- protection for low-paid members earning £20,000 or less, so that staff made redundant retain a lump sum of up to three times salary
- tapered protection for members employed before 1987, who enjoyed reserved rights to the previous (pre-1987) redundancy terms.