It was commenting after widespread reports today that the government plans to bring in short-term emergency measures to cut redundancy benefits for civil servants.
This follows the High Court decision last month to quash changes to the scheme agreed between Prospect, four other unions and the previous government. These changes would have replaced the current entitlements negotiated in 1987 and aligned early retirement and redundancy compensation benefits for the civil service with the rest of the public sector.
Dai Hudd, Prospect Deputy General Secretary, said: “We have always believed this matter will be resolved by negotiation and we stand by our record. Conflict can be avoided if ministers take a fair and sensible line but the draconian measures now being leaked we will oppose root and branch.
“We took a considered judgement five months ago. This needs to be recognised now. But some of what is being reported is completely unreasonable, as well as unlawful.
“Whatever programme of cuts government wants to introduce will not be achieved without a redundancy scheme that has the support of staff. Otherwise, there will be no volunteers for any of the redundancy packages now being prepared and the government will set itself on a collision course with its own staff.”
Hudd made clear that Prospect was prepared to enter negotiations at any moment on the basis of the previously negotiated changes. But any move by the government to impose worse terms, such as a reported 12 or nine-month cap on redundancy payments, would be met with total opposition.
Under the terms of the 1972 Superannuation Act which governs the civil service compensation scheme, the government cannot make detrimental changes to redundancy benefits for civil servants without the agreement of all the relevant unions, including PCS, which took the High Court action last month.