Department of Education workers vote in favour of strike action over cuts and job losses
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Monday 18 February 2013
Civil servants in Education Secretary Michael Gove’s department have voted for strike action over plans to axe 1,000 jobs. Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) backed walkouts by a two-to-one majority – with nine out of ten of those who voted giving the green light for industrial action short of strike.
The union is accusing Mr Gove of using his department as a test for wider civil service job losses. The current proposals envisage about 25 per cent of staff jobs being lost.
A document circulating around the Department for Education says areas where resources could be “radically reduced” include youth work and families policy – including relationship and parenting support programmes. Those where work could be scaled back include internet safety and managing children’s centres.
Staff remaining would concentrate on priority areas such as the flagship free schools and academies programmes.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said: “These cuts are purely political and would not only mean misery for 1,000 of Mr Gove’s own staff but also put at risk some vital public services, such as ensuring children are safe at school and supporting special education needs.”
Former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton recently told MPs that children and family policies within the department had been downgraded as a result of the “juggernaut of school reforms” – only to be rebuked by an unnamed civil servant on the Spectator website as a “lazy incompetent narcissist”.
A DfE spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the PCS has voted in favour of strike action. We have held extensive discussions with the PCS and we are consulting with staff on the proposed changes.
“We made it clear that we want to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible.”
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