On the way to work on Friday I read the following in The Times (no link£):
The cabinet Office announced that 10 per cent of the senior civil service, roughly 400 officials, would get the cash to reward "outstanding performance" and to help people in specialist roles. The money given to senior officials earning £64,000 to £200,000 comes as teachers and policemen have been capped at 1%
Remember that in 2015 MPs gave themselves a whacking 10% pay rise followed by another 1.3% this year with no changes to their terms and conditions of service. One word..expenses.
Shortly after arriving at work the government announced the Pay Deal for civil servants working in the Department of Work & Pensions. It's not straightforward and is entirely based on staff accepting radical changes to their terms and conditions of service.
There will be new contracts changing the hours worked so Job Centres open earlier and later into the evening and more drastically Saturdays in due course as the DWP tries to implement its new Universal Credit Benefit.
The offer sounds good for some, but is based on their signing up to new anti-social hours of working. Those lower down the pay scale (over half) will benefit over the next four years, but those who have been around for years and are on or near the max of their pay scale will just get 1% a year.
Although signing up to the new contract is "voluntary" for those on old contracts, there is a penalty. If a member of staff refuses the "award" will reduce to 0.25%.
Of course there are other factors. Many of those at the higher end of the pay scales are (like me) approaching retirement so the Department has no incentive to pay more, but if refused then these loyal, long standing members of staff will have their pensions affected.
In other words pure bloody blackmail.
Of course this also comes at a time when the junior doctors have been fighting their new contracts. Jeremy Hunt (no spoonerisms please) hasn't listened to them despite a huge amount of public support and that just will not be there for civil servants, let alone Job Centre staff.
And with the largest of the unions (having shrunk in size and influence under it's far-left Socialist Party dominated leadership) having already voting to recommend the pay deal by 18 to 9 at their recent group executive committee, the possibility of any campaign against aspects of this deal is already lost.
Of course there are difficult problems for the unions to consider. Pay strikes are notoriously difficult to motivate, in the main due to the simple fact that if it lasts more than a couple of days or so most of the financial gains will be lost by those taking part.
The divisive nature of the offer will mean a general acceptance by those who stand to gain from the financial side but how they will react to the change of hours doing what is a very stressful and difficult job on the front line of a benefits office is more difficult to judge.
No doubt these arrangements may suit many, making this dreadful deal even more difficult to oppose.
In these circumstances I find my heart saying vote no, but my head says yes. Not an ideal way of looking at things but realism it has to be at the end of the day. But if management are reading this don't expect us to be happy about this deal.
Conditions in Job Centres are difficult enough with all the pressure put on less staff to do more and be expected to have knowledge of all benefits without proper training.
This deal in no way makes up for the way we have been treated.
Morale is at an all-time low and will only get worse.
One things for certain we are not "all in this together" as so many millionaire government politicians try to tell us. They simply have no idea.
And just which Minister was late for a Cabinet meeting because he "wasn't used to working on a Saturday"? Answers on a postcard to the Cabinet Office.
The Prospect unions DWP Committee meets on May 4th to discuss the forthcoming ballot. I will be casting a vote, let me know what you think.