The government has launched a massive attack on workers that every boss in Britain will be watching. It is targeting hundreds of thousands of civil service workers as it aims to slash the huge public spending deficit by hitting jobs and services, and selling off public assets. New Labour wants to massively reduce the payments that civil service workers get when they lose their jobs, in preparation for sacking tens of thousands of them. Cabinet Office bosses last week unilaterally announced that changes would be made from April next year to the terms, which are known as the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. And even that’s not guaranteed as voluntary redundancy terms will remove any contractual right to the sums detailed. They also leave departmental managements the option of paying only the statutory minimum to whoever they choose.
This could help open the way to further privatisation, as it would make it cheaper for private firms to get rid of workers in the future. The plan for the compensation scheme is the government’s latest assault on this key workforce, in its attempt to get ordinary people to pay for the problems caused by its bailing out of the banks. If the attack on the compensation scheme is successful, whoever is in government after next year’s general election will feel emboldened to attack other groups of public sector workers. Workers and their trade unions are furious that these attacks are being pushed through. Both the PCS and Unite unions have threatened to ballot for strike action unless management and the government come back to the table to discuss the issue. The PCS national executive was meeting this week to discuss what action it should take. Activists are pushing for hard-hitting action of more than one day to take place as soon as possible.