Magazine article Public Finance

Civil Servants Keep Talks Going, despite Strike Mandate

Magazine article Public Finance

Civil Servants Keep Talks Going, despite Strike Mandate

Article excerpt

Whitehall's largest trade union this week re-entered 'meaningful' talks with the Cabinet Office, despite voting overwhelmingly for further industrial action over civil service pay, privatisation and job cuts.

The move represents a breakthrough in the long-running dispute between Whitehall managers and their staff.

However, the sudden truce is fragile, with union leaders threatening immediate walk-outs if any government department imposes compulsory redundancies during the discussions.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents 300,000 public servants, said he would give negotiations over the government's civil service reform agenda one last shot' before considering a fresh wave of industrial action. The decision reduces, but does not eliminate, the prospect of a third national strike in 2007.

'Meaningful negotiations have begun and we have until the end of the year to try and address our long-standing grievances,' Serwotka revealed on November 6.

He met Cabinet Office officials on November 5 to agree the timetable for the talks.

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell is keen to break the stand-off between civil servants and their staff, which was caused by below-inflation pay deals, the loss of thousands of jobs and ministerial plans to privatise delivery agencies, such as JobcentrePlus.

More than 68% of PCS members backed the union's proposals for further national industrial action in a ballot result which was announced on October 31. …

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