Headlines: March 31st, 2005

The Office of Public Services Reform has announced agreement with trade unions on new principles that will underpin future public service pay and workforce modernisation negotiations. In return for increased workplace flexibility and adaptability the Government has promised greater investment in skills and action on equal pay, pension reform and systems of pay incentives. The agreement, which has been reached in the Public Services Forum, provides a framework for future development of pay and reward systems across all the public services.Cabinet Office Minister David Miliband, who chairs the Public Service Forum, said: ‘The principles of the agreement support the drive for pay and workforce modernisation to deliver fairness at work and better, more efficient public services. Higher quality jobs and improved working lives should go hand in hand with greater workforce flexibility to improve citizens’ experience of local services’.

The effect of selling the ‘Rule Book’ is that Pay Review bodies will expect employers to demonstrate how greater flexibility will bring efficiency gains. This in turn will focus the attention of managers at all levels across the public sector on how they can use the principles of adaptability and flexibility to improve efficiency.

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said: ‘This is an important development. These are the first set of pay principles developed for the public sector as a whole. They are a further practical result from the establishment of the Public Service Forum by the Government in 2003’. This ambivalent comment may indicate that the unions believe they did not secure the ‘reserve’ price for the ‘Rule Book’.