Public service mutuals: “A meaningful say”
The gap between the reality and rhetoric around the Government’s programme of public service reform continues to widen.
The Open Public Services white paper was big on rhetoric. But does it bear up to scrutiny?
Let’s take one example, public service mutuals.
Take a moment to remind ourselves what the white paper says:
We are giving public sector staff new rights to form new mutuals and bid to take over the services they deliver, empowering millions of public sector staff to become their own bosses … we will not dictate the precise form of these mutuals; rather, this should be driven by what is best for the users of services and by employees as co-owners of the business.
To give them credit, the Government provide us with a specific example so that we can see this new wave of employee empowerment in practice. The civil service pensions administrator, formerly part of the DWP, is to be spun out as a new employee-owned mutual, as part of a joint venture with a yet to be named private sector partner:
plans have been announced for MyCSP to become the first mutual enterprise to spin out of a central government service … the innovative ownership model will be matched by a participative management approach: there has already been a strong turnout in elections for the Employee Partnership Council, through which employees will have a meaningful say in the running of the business.
Interesting then that survey results published today by PCS show that the staff are feeling very far from empowered. 211 out of a total of 380 staff based at the MyCSP offices in MyCSP offices in Basingstoke, Cheadle Hulme, Liverpool, Newcastle and Worthing responded to the poll run by PCS.
94% of respondents said they did not agree with Mr Maude that turning MyCSP into a ‘mutual joint venture’ would “empower employees and drive up performance”. More than 95% said they wanted to retain their civil service status – a request the government has refused.
No wonder then that the employers have consistently opposed surveys of staff opinion. Prior to the latest findings by PCS, the only other ballot to have taken place among MyCSP staff was for industrial action where a majority voted in favour of strike action to protest against their enforced transfer.
It looks like staff are having a meaningful say through their union, at least.