The Public and Commercial Services Union has claimed victory in its fight against government plans to unilaterally alter the terms of the civil service compensation scheme, which governs redundancy payments for public sector workers.
On Friday, a High Court judge quashed an amendment to the scheme supposedly effective on 1 April 2010. The judgement also requires the government to enter negotiations with the union if it wants to change the scheme in the future.
The Public and Commercial Services Union’s challenge, by way of a judicial review, was heard over two days in April and the judge ruled on 10 May that the previous government had acted unlawfully. Both sides were then given a few weeks to reach an agreement on the terms of an order to quash the amendment, but failed to do so, and the case went back to court for a final hearing on 9 June.
The union maintains the changes to the compensation scheme would make it easier and cheaper to cut “tens of thousands of civil service jobs and privatise more of our public services”.
Its general secretary Hugh Lanning said: “We are delighted with the ruling that proves our members were right to oppose the cuts.
“It’s rare for a High Court judge to side with a trade union, so we believe this vindicates our stance and our assertion all along that this was a grossly unfair attempt by the government to rip up the rights of its own workforce.
“The government now has a golden opportunity to show it is truly committed to consultation and negotiation, by getting round the table with us to agree a new scheme that is fair and protects the rights of civil and public servants.”
Richard Arthur, head of trade union law at Thompsons Solicitors, who acted for union, said: “The ruling confirms that a government cannot simply change redundancy rights which have already accrued for civil servants without agreement by the unions.
“With the exception of some favourable age-related changes, all the benefits in the new civil service compensation scheme are quashed and all the benefits in the old one are protected. The new scheme that was imposed on civil servants was simply unlawful.”
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