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by Our Industrial Reporter @TrinderMatt
PLANS by Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss to wage a “war on Whitehall waste” by cutting jobs, pay and attacking working conditions in the Civil Service will face opposition “every step of the way,” unions warned today.
The Foreign Secretary has pledged to cut Civil Service annual leave, end national pay deals and scrap jobs aimed at increasing public-sector inclusion and diversity if she beats former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the race to become Britain’s next prime minister.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the MP for South West Norfolk, who has been in government for most of the last decade, is “declaring war on herself with a fantasy recipe for levelling down” which would lead to a race to the bottom for workers’ rights.
Ms Truss, who has held various Cabinet positions under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, claimed her proposals would save £11 billion and tackle left-wing “groupthink” within the Civil Service.
Ms Truss said: “As prime minister I will run a leaner, more efficient, more focused Whitehall that prioritises the things that really matter to people and is laser-focused on front-line services.
“There is too much bureaucracy and stale group-think in Whitehall.”
The bulk of the proposed savings – £8.8 billion – would come from paying workers living in the Midlands and north less than counterparts in places like London and the south-east.
Cutting the average Civil Service leave entitlement by two days from 27 to 25 would save about £2 billion, her campaign team said, while scrapping Whitehall diversity officers would cut annual costs by around £12 million a year.
Facility time, under which trade union representatives receive paid time off to focus on union work, would be banned – as would allowing the use of grants, offices and equipment – saving a further £137 million, they added.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), slammed the plans, saying: “If Liz Truss is elected, and if she tries to go ahead with these proposals, she’ll face opposition every step of the way.”
He told the Morning Star: “Civil servants are not a political tool to be used and abused for one person’s ambition; they are the hard-working people who keep the country running, day in day out, and they deserve respect.”
Ms Rayner said: “The Tories have been in government for 12 long years.
“[Ms Truss] has sat around the Cabinet table for almost a decade during which the Conservatives have overseen epic waste, £15 billion during the pandemic alone, with lucrative contracts handed out to their crony mates at the expense of taxpayers.
“This wannabe prime minister is stuck in the past, fighting old battles and promising a race to the bottom on public-sector workers’ pay and rights.
“Her ‘tailored’ pay plans would level down the pay of northerners, worsening the divide which already exists. This out-of-touch government’s commitment to levelling up is dead.”
Ms Rayner claimed Labour would put an end to the waste culture by setting up a new government department, its Office for Value for Money.
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