PCS slams “pure hypocrisy” of Deputy PM’s pledge as he seeks to cut it for civil servants

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Nick Clegg’s pledge to extend flexible leave is “pure hypocrisy”, the PCS says, because his government is seeking to cut it in the civil service.

Just days after the deputy prime minister’s speech cabinet ministers can expect to receive detailed plans from government departments on reducing flexible and parental leave and other family-friendly policies.

As part of the civil service reform plan the government has ordered a ‘review’ of all its terms and conditions, including very basic things like hours and holidays, with a view to cutting them back.

The move, which will hit parents and carers the hardest, has caused uproar among civil and public servants and the union has called a day of protest for 30 November, with members holding lunchtime demonstrations and workplace meetings.

The government should use existing family-friendly arrangements to set an example to other employers to improve, the union says. Cutting back in the civil service would send the message to businesses that flexible working was a luxury, not a necessity.

Under the review – the details of which were leaked to the union – departments have until Friday to produce a draft plan of what they want to cut and by when, with final plans due by the end of the year in time to be implemented from January 2013.

Clegg’s announcement also appears at odds with chancellor George Osborne’s suggestion that employees could sign away their rights to request flexible working in exchange for company shares.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Assuming Nick Clegg even knows what his government is planning for the civil service, it is pure hypocrisy to tell businesses they should extend flexible working while seeking to cut it back for your own staff.

“After seeing tens of thousands of their colleagues thrown out of work, and having their pay and pensions cut, civil servants are now being forced to fight to defend everything they rely on to manage their working lives.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The intent behind these plans is welcome and they are a real step in the right direction. But there is a real danger that it will not be an option for ordinary working families gripped by a falling wages and cuts to child tax credits.

“A failure to extend statutory paid paternity leave, combined with the continued pressures women are under to return to work, will make these plans a pipe dream for many. Added to that are plans to move the right to request flexible working from a statutory footing to a voluntary one.

“If the government wants to make these plans a reality, then it needs to address the financial pressures working families are under by lengthening paid paternity leave and addressing the discrimination which women on maternity leave still face in workplaces across Britain.”


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