Thursday, 23 August 2007

Long hours for civil servants

RESEARCH published last week shows that excessive workloads are forcing over half of full time civil servants to work over and above their contracted hours, with 45.8 per cent surveyed working between 40 and 48 hours and one in 20 breaking the working time regulations by working over 49 hours per week.
Over 1,700 civil servants took part in the survey conducted by the Centre for Industrial Relations at Keele University in conjunction with Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
The 24/7 report supports the union’s claim that workloads are increasing as the Government ploughs ahead with 84,000 civil and public service job cuts which is damaging the delivery of public services. Other key findings include:
• Half of all those working additional hours do so in order to keep control of their excessive workloads. This compares to a third in the private sector delivering civil service contracts.
• Nearly 40 per cent had attended work when ill to keep up with workloads.
• More than half are experiencing difficulties balancing work and family/private life.
• Staff working in the private sector delivering civil service contracts are considerably less likely to have work-life balance polices available in their workplace.
• One sixth had cut their holidays short and one third weren’t able to take their full holiday allowance.
The union is currently in the process of consulting with its 280,000 civil and public service members on what forms future industrial action could take as it looks to escalate the national civil service wide dispute. The dispute with the Government and civil service management has already seen two one-day civil service wide strikes this year, involving up to 200,000 civil and public servants.
The survey, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Industrial Relations, Keele University, was a national internet based survey.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This report clearly illustrates that the government’s drive to slash jobs is leading to increasing workloads and embedding a long-hours culture in civil and public services.
“With fewer people to do the same amount work, staff are under increasing pressure leading to corners being cut, which in turn damages the quality of service delivery.
“It smacks of double standards, with the Government promoting work-life balance policies, when over half those surveyed experienced difficulty in balancing their work and family/private life.
“Excessive workloads resulting from job cuts and pay cuts in real terms are all hitting the morale of dedicated staff committed to delivering first rate service. “The Government as a responsible employer needs to wake up to the fact that decent public services need enough people with enough resources to deliver them.”