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GOVERNMENT plans to butcher 90,000 Civil Service jobs prompted fury from unions today, with warnings of nationwide industrial action.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed his Cabinet to axe the workforce by 20 per cent despite lacking any coherent strategy to deal with consequential cuts in public services.
He gave ministers one month to devise ways to implement the cull and compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) — the biggest Civil Service union with more than 177,000 members — will hold an emergency executive meeting next week and warned that national strike action is “very much on the table.”
Managerial union Prospect described the plan as “an outrageous act of vandalism on our public services.”
And the TUC called the plan “shameful.”
The First Division Association union (FDA), representing Britain’s 20,000 most senior civil servants, said the cull was more like “a continuation of the government’s Civil Service culture wars,” and “ill-thought-out, rushed job slashes that won’t lead to a more cost-effective government.”
The government said it wants to shed extra staff employed to deal with the aftermath of Britain leaving the European Union and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said the cuts would reduce Civil Service staffing to 2016 levels.
It also plans to draft in bosses from the private sector to fill any vacancies at the most senior levels of the service.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is not about efficiency. This is about the Prime Minister trying to create a smokescreen to distract from his utter shambles of a government.
“Our members will not be the scapegoats. We have our conference in 10 days’ time. Taking national strike action is very much on the table.”
TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The government is yet again treating the Civil Service with contempt.
“Civil servants are key workers who keep this country running. They deliver vital services, collect taxes, help people back into employment, regulate medicines, negotiate trade deals and thousands of other things that bind society together.
“It is shameful that the Prime Minister is throwing them under a bus to distract from the government’s failure to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”
Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said the proposal was “an outrageous act of vandalism on our public services.”
“Through Brexit, and then the pandemic, we have never been more reliant in peace time on our Civil Service,” he said.
“Our members are highly skilled and there is a real risk to government delivery from losing their vital expertise.”
FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “To govern is to choose and ultimately this government can decide to cut the Civil Service back to 2016 levels, but it will also then have to choose what the reduced Civil Service will no longer have the capacity to do.
“Will they affect passports, borders or health?”
Labour accused the government of letting working people down through “pointless rhetoric and lack of action.”
One embarrassed government departmental head, Jim Harra of Revenue and Customs, apologised to staff because they learned from the media that they have a one in five chance of being sacked in a month’s time.
“I am sorry that you have learned this from the media rather than from me or Civil Service leaders,” he said.
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