Prospect, the specialists’ and managers’ union, has reacted with fury at the “consultation” document issued by the Cabinet Office today on changes to civil service severance and redundancy terms.
The consultation comes hot on the heels of a public sector-wide consultation launched by the Treasury on 5 February.
Speaking on behalf of the union’s 29,000 members in public service, deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “Given that the Cabinet Office is running a parallel exercise in tandem with the Treasury, our members are rightly asking which, if any, of the consultations is being run in good faith.
“Members voted in 2010 to accept an agreement hammered out with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude at the height of the financial crisis. Maude himself said: ‘I believe we now have a scheme which is fair, protects those who need the most support, addresses the inequities in the current system and is right for the long term.’
“Our members are quite rightly asking what has changed. Revisiting this deal so quickly after it was signed raises doubts about whether public servants can trust this government to keep a promise.
“The absence of data and analysis in the Cabinet Office consultation document to back up its assertions is shocking. The Treasury consultation paper issued on 5 February has just one data source. The government’s documents are thin on evidence but heavy on prejudice.”
A 2012 National Audit Office report that looked at managing early departures in central government found that the costs of releasing the 17,800 employees who left early under the revised scheme during 2011 were around 45 per cent lower than they would have been under the previous scheme.
The union also pointed out that government departments already have the ability to offer less than the standard terms.
Graham said Prospect would be reminding the minster that there is a legislative duty to “consult with a view to reaching agreement” if the government wants to change terms and conditions.
“Anyone reading the “consultation” paper will see a document high on assertion but low on evidence.
“Given the envisaged job losses as a result of the Spending Review, any good employer or HR professional would want to provide staff with as much certainty as possible, maximise the options available and ensure that those who leave do so with a level of dignity.
“Instead the government has shown its disdain for those who have served the public so loyally,” Graham concluded.