Cutting reps’ facility time “a childish, vindictive gesture” – PCS President

Janice Godrich tells UnionNews that the threat to withdraw union reps' facility time will be seen as an attempt to punish unions for standing up against the Coalition's attack on public sector pensions
by - 4th October 2011, 10.35 GMT

Cutting facility time for union reps in the civil service “looks like a very childish gesture, in the light of the hundreds of hours of good work that unions do” according to PCS President Janice Godrich.

Speaking to UnionNews on yesterday’s speech to the Tory Conference by the Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude that he is to hold a consultation on phasing out the practice in Whitehall, Janice Godrich said: “There is a danger that in the light of the democratic decision of unions to take action in defence of their pensions, this will be seen as a vindictive, punitive step, which could backfire on the government.  It could make people more determined to support their union and support their reps.”

PCS National Executive last week confirmed that it is preparing for strike action on the 30th of November over the government’s pension plans.  With many other unions either having balloted or being about to ballot members, industrial action on that day could be the most significant co-ordinated industrial challenge yet to the Coalition’s economic policies.

While all the civil service unions – such as the FDA and Prospect – would be affected by a change in rules on paid time off for union reps, some in PCS believe they could be singled out because of the union’s high profile and strength in numbers across large “delivery” departments, such as the DWP.

Says Janice Godrich: “I hope the government will pull back, but if they do go ahead with this, PCS will resist it very firmly.”