Magazine article Public Finance

Cabinet Office Set to Mediate in Civil Service Privatisation Row

Magazine article Public Finance

Cabinet Office Set to Mediate in Civil Service Privatisation Row

Article excerpt

The first signs of a breakthrough in Whitehall's industrial relations dispute emerged this week when the Cabinet Office assumed responsibility for a government-wide assessment of privatisation plans.

The move follows pressure from civil service trade unions for a co-ordinated government position on privatisation issues instead of decisions being taken solely by departments.

The details of the Cabinet Office's role were due to be discussed at a meeting between officials and civil service trade union leaders on March 1.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents 320,000 public servants and has led opposition to the government's Whitehall reforms, said that the move 'represents a breakthrough of sorts'. But he stressed that 'little progress' had been made on the union's other concerns: job security, pay caps and staff compensation plans.

A briefing note sent to PCS regional representatives late last week states: 'No department or minister has appeared in the past to be willing to accept overall responsibility for this [privatisation] issue. But now... the Cabinet Office has agreed to take a lead for the civil service.'

However, the Cabinet Office warned that this did not mean that there were any plans to alter the number of privatisation projects. …

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