Opinion Former Article

PCS: Mutualisation of ideological team proves lack of appetite

The lack of appetite from civil servants to become part of a ‘mutual' is proved today (1) by the announcement the next in line for part-privatisation is a small team wedded to the Cabinet Office's ideology, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

The ‘nudge unit', of only a dozen people, hit the headlines yesterday when it was reported it was responsible for highly questionable psychometric tests being used to threaten jobseekers with sanctions.

When the Cabinet Office imposed the first mutual in the civil service on staff at My Civil Service Pension - the body that administers the pensions of 1.5 million serving and retired civil servants – it was so unpopular it led to industrial action.

One of the first decisions, entirely against the will of staff, was to strip workers of their civil service status under the new arrangement and, therefore, access to the civil service pensions they administer.

Last year the respected Civil Service World newspaper published a survey that showed only 16% of civil servants were even "interested in exploring the idea" of becoming a mutual.

In a survey of all MyCSP staff conducted by the union in 2011, 94% of respondents said they did not agree with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude's claim that it would "empower employees".

Mr Maude is on record as saying he would be happy for mutuals to be fully sold off to the private sector in future.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "There is nothing mutual, co-operative or employee-led about what Francis Maude is trying to do.

"The first mutual in the civil service was imposed by Maude's government against a backdrop of strikes by the staff who wanted to remain as civil servants.

"Improving public services requires investment, not gimmicks and back-door privatisation."

ENDS

Notes

- Information about the Civil Service World survey is here http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/news_centre/index.cfm/id/76157D45-7C0B-4D0E-A6F7C5EA32AF400E and Maude's quote about a full sell-off is here http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/index.cfm/id/F32A7C9B-40A7-4003-B336D44260F2EBED

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747, 07833 978216 or richard@pcs.org.uk

- PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and represents civil and public servants in central government, including almost 80,000 in the Department for Work and Pensions, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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