Monday, August 18, 2008

Defence union challenges MOD in High Court

Defence union challenges MOD in High Court


STOP PRESS: After submissions by both sides Judge Wynn Williams said he hoped to give a ruling late next week (ending 29 August).

A legal challenge by Prospect to the terms on which the Ministry of Defence is seeking to cut the jobs of 5,000 civilian staff is due to be heard in the High Court.

The union, which represents 16,000 defence professionals, is asking the court to declare the MOD’s early release scheme (ERS) unlawful on the grounds that it only seeks to pay cheaper ‘flexible’ severance payments in making staff redundant.

In supporting evidence, the union says that because the purpose of the scheme is to help reduce the number of civilian staff by at least 5,000, MOD should use the more favourable ‘compulsory’ severance terms, rather than seeking to make job cuts on the cheap.

Prospect says the MOD scheme breaches the terms of the civil service management code and the civil service compensation scheme.

National secretary Steve Jary said: “Whichever way the court rules, its decision will have a major impact across the civil service.

“The department blames the union for obstructing rafts of people who are dying to get out of the department with a wad of cash. But Prospect is not in the business of allowing jobs to be sold at a discount. We are here to protect employment and, most important, to stop the destruction of MOD’s specialist skills base.”

Jary added: “If an early release scheme is necessary, we will do everything we can to make sure that MOD pays what the rules require it to pay. If Prospect wins, MOD will have to substantially revise the existing ERS and its plans for achieving staffing reductions.”

Jary said the legal advice received by the union was very positive. Prospect has a top legal team of Gavin Millar QC supported by Michael Ford, together with Prospect solicitors Russell Jones & Walker.

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