I presented to Parliament tonight (Monday) a petiton signed by 50,000 civil servants demanding fair pay across the civil service. Civil servants from virtually all government departments had signed the petition amidst a growing anger that the Government is just not taking low pay and unfairness in the civil service seriously.
In addition to the ongoing scandal of low pay in many departments and agencies, civil servants are facing real inequalities in pay rates with many working alongside colleagues doing the same job but on widely different pay rates.
This unfairness has been introduced into the system by the Government's policy of allowing over 200 different departments, agencies and other public bodies to set their own pay rates.
The PCS trade union is demanding an end to this vast array of pay negotiations and for the Government to re-introduce national pay bargaining. This would establish common standards and minimum requirements on pay and conditions across the civil service.
I fully support the PCS demands. National pay bargaining would overcome this chaotic negotiating maze set up by the Government and would allow us to concentrate on eradicating low pay.
This was the largest petition in the history of the civil service. Coming on top of Gordon Brown's unilateral announcements of 100,000 job cuts and a three year pay freeze the Government shouldn't underestimate the strength of feeling amongst its own workforce on this issue.