By Claire West
The Treasury is scuppering the talks over changes to civil service redundancy pay by imposing an undisclosed limit on the total amount of money available, the Public and Commercial Services union says.
The chancellor of the exchequer's department has waded in to the delicate negotiations between the civil service unions and the Cabinet Office, potentially dashing any hope of reaching an agreement.
The union says the Treasury's unnecessary intervention seeks to pave the way for tens of thousands of civil service job cuts, forcing low-paid public servants to pay the price for an economic crisis they did not cause.
The Council of Civil Service Unions, of which PCS is by far the largest union, has been in talks with the Cabinet Office after the union successfully overturned the previous government's imposed cuts to the civil service compensation scheme, which governs redundancy terms.
The High Court ruled twice in PCS's favour that it was unlawful for the government to reduce rights under the scheme that had accrued through length of service without the agreement of all the unions affected.
The coalition government has introduced legislation in parliament to drastically cap redundancy payments for a limited period, and has said it will seek to change the law in the longer term in a clear attempt to usurp the High Court's ruling.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "The millionaires George Osborne and Francis Maude are seeking to make loyal, low-paid public servants pay for an economic crisis caused by bankers and financial speculators who are getting off scot free.
"If the government is serious about negotiating a fair scheme that honours the contracts our members have signed, the Cabinet Office will call off the Treasury now and come to the table with an open mind.
"We remain committed to reaching an agreement, but this isn't negotiation, it's blackmail."