Opinion Former Article

PCS: Maude's 'wishful thinking' over appetite for mutual

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude's continuing claims that his attempt at mutualising a government body enjoys staff support is completely undermined by figures that show almost no employees see the benefits.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at My Civil Service Pension - the agency that administers the pensions of 1.5 current and retired civil servants - have already taken strike action against the plans.

Now in a survey of all staff conducted by the union, 94.3% of respondents said they did not agree with Mr Maude that turning MyCSP into a 'mutual joint venture' would "empower employees and drive up performance". More than 95% said they wanted to retain their civil service status - a request the government has refused.

Almost a fifth of respondents to the survey - filled in by 55% of staff across the MyCSP offices in Basingstoke, Cheadle Hulme, Liverpool, Newcastle and Worthing - were not members of the union.

Launching the first 12 public sector 'pathfinder' mutuals in August 2010, which did not include MyCSP, Mr Maude heralded the start of a "a genuinely ground-up movement where staff...can come together to take over and deliver better services".

In a written answer on 23 June this year to a question from Mary Glindon MP, Mr Maude claimed "extensive consultation" had been carried out with MyCSP staff.

He added: "There has been very strong interest from employees; naturally some have concerns and are eager to find out more about what the changes will mean in practice, but there is a great deal of recognition among employees of the fact that mutualisation offers substantial benefits."

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference earlier this month, the minister also claimed it was "useful to take workers with you".

Far from being employee-led, the union says the government is using the language of mutualism and co-operation to soften opposition to what amounts to privatisation. The preferred bidders for a private sector stake are Capita, JLT Ltd, Wipro and Xafinity Paymaster.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Francis Maude's claims that staff are gladly embracing his plans have been proven to be wishful thinking.

"Not only have our members already been on strike against this so-called 'employee-led' venture, when asked, staff have categorically stated that they see no benefits whatsoever."

ENDS

Notes

- For information and interview requests contact PCS national press officer Richard Simcox on 020 7801 2747 or 07833 978216

- The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich - on Twitter @janicegodrich

- Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

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