Wednesday, August 27, 2008

High Court rejects defence job cuts challenge

High Court rejects defence job cuts challenge


The High Court has turned down a legal challenge to the terms on which the Ministry of Defence is seeking to cut the jobs of 5,000 civilian staff.

The Prospect union, which represents 16,000 defence professionals, last week asked 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, rather than the more favourable ‘compulsory’ severance terms.

But the provisional judgment delivered by Justice Wyn Williams ruled that MOD was within its rights under the civil service management code in offering the cheaper flexible terms.

Prospect had argued that MOD’s scheme was flawed as the department had failed to identify which groups of workers were in surplus and vulnerable to redundancy, as required by the code and the civil service compensation scheme.

However, the court did not deliver a definitive interpretation of the code’s status, as it was asked to do by the union.

Steve Jary, Prospect National Secretary, said: “This is a bizarre judgement which would enable any employer to drive a coach and horses through any agreement to regulate terms and conditions of employment.

“The union’s intention was to preserve the right balance of skilled jobs within MOD and challenge its cavalier attitude to binding agreements. MOD will now lose thousands of good quality skilled staff simply because they are cheaper to get rid of.”

Critical skills that are needed by the organisation should have been identified as part of the cuts programme from the outset, says Prospect. MOD already has skills shortages in science and engineering and a planned increase in demand for those skills on the new aircraft carrier contract and Trident.

The union is now taking legal advice on an appeal, which it has been granted 14 days to consider by the Treasury Solicitors. In the meantime, negotiations are also taking place with MOD on how the decision should be implemented and other issues relating to the programme of job losses.

The full judgment will be available in a week.

Technorati Tags:

No comments: