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Pensions staff in UK forced into risky privatisation experiment

02 May 2012
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Hundreds of pensions staff will be forced out of the public sector as part of a risky privatisation experiment, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

My Civil Service Pension (MyCSP) - the government agency that administers the pensions of 1.5 million working and retired civil servants - will become the first 'mutual' in the civil service. This means staff will lose their civil service status and access to the pension that they themselves administer.

Despite claiming it wants to give employees more say over their work, the government has never once asked staff if they want to go down this route.

The union says this is a politically-motivated attempt, led by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, to privatise more of our public services, and puts at risk the safe administration of civil servants' pensions.

The model of 'mutual joint venture' was decided by the Cabinet Office and imposed on the 500 staff who are based around the UK. No other options were put forward.

In a comprehensive survey of all MyCSP staff conducted by the union, 94% of respondents said they did not agree with Mr Maude's contention that turning MyCSP into a mutual would "empower staff and drive up performance". And 95% said they wanted to retain their civil service status.

And in a show of the strength of feeling, PCS members across the country have been taking industrial action against the transfer.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "We believe ministers know that the public do not want more privatisation, so they are using mutuals to shield their true aims. This is privatisation by another name.

"Instead of listening to the people who actually do the job, senior officials and ministers are imposing their unpopular ideas on unwilling staff. They should be investing in public services to make them better, not selling them off for private companies to make a profit."

The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has around 290,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK's sixth largest union.

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