Headlines: May 18th, 2001

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Britain’s largest civil service trade union with more than a quarter of a million members has called for an explanation of what cuts in services would fall under a Conservative government.The Conservatives have said they want to reduce civil service staffing to 1997 levels, as one of the ways of paying for reduced fuel taxes.

Union general secretary Barry Reamsbottom said: ‘The latest figures show that staffing levels in the civil service have risen by just over 1% overall since 1997, but in some areas there have actually been reductions. For example, in the Department of Trade and Industry, staffing fell from 5,048 in 1997 to 4,700 last year, a cut of 7%. Yet the Conservatives say that they will save a third of a billion pounds by cutting the department further.’

The union also challenged such a plan as it might affect other departments whose workload has risen dramatically, such as the Immigration and Nationality Department.