A UNION boss has insisted that a scheme aimed at cutting government staff numbers will not provide a ‘golden ticket’ for civil servants to leave.
Angela Moffatt, secretary of the Government Officers’ Association, said: ‘Some might portray this as just another junket for lazy civil servants. It is isn’t – it’s capped and there are tapering provisions. This is not bonanza time for anybody. It’s not a golden ticket.’
It was announced last week that civil service management and unions have agreed a scheme which aims to cut the size of the government workforce –and the minimise the need for compulsory redundancies.
The Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS) allows an individual civil servant to choose to leave the civil service in return for a severance payment provided they have the agreement of their department and the Civil Service Commission – and where it can be demonstrated there will be a long term financial saving to government.
MARS offers severance payments of one month’s salary per year of service to those who leave the civil service, creating job vacancies that can be filled by redeployment – and ultimately somewhere along the line, a vacancy that does not need to be filled, so creating the saving to government.
Ms Moffatt said it was the unions that first pitched for such a scheme almost three years ago – but claimed it had initially met with disinterest from the commission.
‘That was pretty surprising.
‘The scheme itself really came from our experience in the private sector. It’s about creating space, with posts going in one area, generating savings somewhere down the line.’
She maintained that the scheme was only taken up following a ‘change in personalities’ at the commission.
She said there had been a ‘healthy interest’ from union members but it would be extremely difficult to tell how many applications would actually be accepted.
‘There are definite posts you can’t do without. And if it doesn’t actually save any money in the medium or long terms it isn’t going to happen,’ she said.
Under the scheme, those who are members of the government’s unified pension scheme can get severance payments based on one month’s basic pay per year of services up to a maximum of 12 months.
For those civil servants who are close to their pension age, tapering provisions apply. Separate provisions apply for those who are over pension age.
Applications for MARS will close at 5pm on Friday, September 28.
Ms Moffatt said the unions had a adopted a ‘realistic position’ with the civil service management.
She said: ‘Where there are opportunities for good relations with the employer then obviously we will try to make that happen. We are not in the business of trying to create problems - because their are too many problems to deal with already!’
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