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Friday, 4 August 2017

Third legal defeat for Government in a fortnight

From a PCS press release 4 August 2017:

(Note: this may affect ARMS members who left work after the changes were imposed)

Unlawful cuts to civil service redundancy pay have been quashed by the High Court in the third major legal defeat for the government in just over a week, the Public and Commercial Services union says. Judges also refused the government’s request to appeal and ordered it to pay the union’s costs, including an immediate £40,000 as an "interim payment". It opens the door for civil servants made redundant under the new terms imposed in November to claim compensation after being left thousands of pounds worse off.

The order comes just over a week after Unison won major victories in the courts over employment tribunal fees and the need for employers to properly consult when making major changes in the workplace.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "This is a great win for us and all civil servants, and another humiliating defeat for the government that treated its workforce with contempt by excluding us from talks. In trying to fix the terms of the negotiations the government only succeeded in showing itself to be weak, vulnerable and afraid of serious discussion. The judgement proves how important it is to belong to a trade union that is prepared to fight back."

Background:

The court ruled last month the Tories’ latest cuts to the terms of the civil service compensation scheme - which governs voluntary and compulsory redundancy pay - were unlawful because the Cabinet Office excluded the union from negotiations.

Lord Justice Sales and Mrs Justice Whipple ruled former Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer - who lost his seat at the general election - failed in his legal "duty to consult with a view to reaching agreement" by excluding PCS from more than a dozen meetings attended by most of the smaller unions.

In a letter to the unions in June, a senior Cabinet Office official wrote:

"I want to be clear that attendance at any further discussions will be taken as a clear commitment that those unions engaging in the talks have accepted that the proposal above will form the basis of a reformed, negotiated, set of arrangements that their relevant executives can recommend acceptance to their members in any ballot."

The judgement stated: "There was no basis on which the Minister was entitled to exclude the PCSU from the consultation. It cannot be said that it is highly likely that the outcome would not have been affected if the PCSU had been allowed to participate in the second round of discussions, as it should have been."

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