Public and Commercial Services Union
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Criminal records bureau in work to rule

Yesterday (Monday 13 Oct), saw the start of a work to rule at the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) which could double the time it takes for prospective teachers, nurses, social workers and foster parents to obtain clearance to work with children.

Up to 450 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) at the Liverpool based CRB will be working to rule in protest at a 0.5% cost of living pay rise when inflation is running at 4.8%.

The offer of a 0.5% cost of living pay rise follows the government’s insistence to cap public sector pay to 2%.

The union is calling for members to refuse to work overtime and to not exceed team benchmark targets for the processing of criminal record checks.

These checks currently take less than four weeks, but could take more than eight weeks as a result of the action. The protest follows the imposition of the 2008 pay award despite 91% of union members voting to reject it.

The work to rule in the CRB comes as a strike ballot involving 270,000 PCS members enters its final week, with voting closing on Friday 17 October.

The strike ballot, involving civil and public servants working across the UK, comes as anger mounts over the government’s public sector pay policy which is disproportionately hitting some of the lowest paid in the public sector.

This year has already seen pay strikes hit jobcentres, passports, immigration and coastguards across the UK

Pay in the CRB, like the rest of the civil service, is worse than other parts of the public sector because ‘progression’ (moving from the minimum to the maximum of the pay range) is included in the government’s pay cap. Hence there is less money available to fund basic pay awards.

PCS Negotiations Officer, Peter Middleman commented, “Our hard working members at the CRB are recognised as among the most efficient and effective in the Home Office.

"They persistently hit all the targets set by Ministers, despite numerous bureaucratic obstacles being put in their way.

"It is an indictment of senior managers that the reward for this appears to be a lot of luke-warm words followed by what amounts to an effective pay cut of more than 4% in real terms”.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, added: “Industrial action is a last resort but there is growing sense of betrayal over the government’s public sector pay cap, which is compounding the financial hardship of hardworking civil and public servants at a time of economic instability.

"The disruption from the work to rule in the CRB could be made worse if members back a programme of national pay strikes later this week.

"The government and CRB management have to realise that pay cuts and pay freezes will only drive down the wages of people already struggling to make ends meet and start paying people a fair wage.”