PCS

Make workplaces safe first! (John Moloney's column)

We’re still waiting for a response from the civil service to our proposals for what employers should do in cases of some who might be affected by the virus. We made various demands about the isolation and closure of workspaces; we were promised a response this week, but that’s now been delayed. For the past fortnight we’ve been holding off bosses’ plans to increase staffing levels in the workplace itself in the Passport Office. There’s currently a 17.5% staffing level in the workplace, and bosses want to ramp that up to 25%. They want to clear a backlog of applications, but on the whole that’s...

Memories of Tony Reay

Tony Reay, who died on 23 April, was a campaigner, trade unionist and socialist. For most of his adult life he worked closely with Workers’ Liberty comrades in the civil service trade unions, first the CPSA and then the PCS. He was based in Lewisham for the past 30 years and was hugely respected in the Lewisham labour movement. I first met Tony 27 years ago, just after I moved to London. The then AWL industrial organiser discovered I was now living across from the road from Tony, and sent me to visit Tony with the instruction to recruit him. I still don’t know if that was the organiser’s sense...

After Trinity Bridge House

We’re in negotiations with the civil service to secure a national agreement on what should happen if there’s a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a workplace. Obviously that individual worker needs to immediately go home, with full pay, and our demand is that their immediate team is also sent home on full pay. We’re further demanding that their immediate work space, if it can be isolated, be shut down and deep cleaned, and if it can’t, that the entire building be closed. The national negotiations were impelled by struggles our members faced at workplace level, for example at Trinity Bridge House, a...

Jobcentres in the pandemic

The coronavirus crisis has radically changed the job roles and working environment in Jobcentres. Department for Work and Pensions policy on self-isolation for permanent staff is relatively good, sending anyone with a relevant underlying health condition home for 12 weeks on full pay, although there are arguments with management about staff who live with vulnerable people still being asked to come in. G4S staff are on full pay, despite significantly reduced hours because almost no security is needed now jobcentres have been closed to the public, and would be paid if they needed to self-isolate...

The civil service in the crisis

We now have a civil-service wide agreement that all outsourced workers will be paid in full if their workplaces shut down, or they have to self isolate. We are awaiting confirmation they will receive full sick pay as well. The union has to be active in policing the agreement. There are agency staff in some government departments, doing processing and admin work, and the employer has agreed to furlough them on 80% pay if they have to self isolate etc. That’s better than nothing, as the risk was that their contracts would simply be terminated, but the union is pushing for those workers to be...

Close to full pay

We think we’re close to an agreement with the Cabinet Office that all outsourced workers on the civil service estate will get full pay if they go off sick and self-isolation, where previously they’d only have had access to Statutory Sick Pay or in some cases they would not be paid at all. We’ve won that agreement in some departments already, such as BEIS London, where the union is strong locally, and the outsourced workers have a recent history of struggle. But in other places the outsourced contractors have been holding out, so we want a central agreement with the employer to ensure all...

Suspend all job cuts!

The labour movement needs to assert itself in the current crisis. Whilst being sensitive to what is happening around us, we cannot suspend our struggles and demands. The movement needs to raise big political demands, such as the demand for a complete moratorium on lay-offs and redundancies. We’re raising that demand with the civil service. We know that the Department for Work and Pensions is about to announce yet more office closures and resultant redundancies. We have made it clear to them that if they don’t back down from that then we’ll be in dispute. Exactly what form that will take in the...

PCS takes up Covid-19 issues

On Thursday 12 March, the union will be meeting the Cabinet Office to discuss workers’ rights in the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ll be putting a number of demands to them, including the right for workers to walk off the job if they feel themselves to be at risk of infection, and that people with underlying health conditions are moved away from public-facing work. We’re also demanding that the government ensures the companies to which it outsources various work pay full company sick pay from day one of any sickness, and that any outsourced workers who have to self-isolate are fully paid. If the...

Vote Independent Left in PCS!

Elections for the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the civil service union PCS and for important departmental committees will soon be underway (nominations close 12 March, balloting will run from 16 April to 7 May). Three sets of candidates will be standing: the PCS Independent Left (IL), Left Unity (LU), and the Broad Left Network (BLN). The IL, which includes Workers’ Liberty, currently has three members on the NEC and successfully campaigned in 2019 for the election of long standing PCS activist John Moloney as Assistant General Secretary (AGS) on the basis of a workers’ candidate on a...

Bullying is not just Rutnam

In the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), part of the Department for Transport, one of our leading reps, Paul Williams, is being targeted for compulsory redundancy. We believe this is an attack on the union in the workplace. Paul's local branch is discussing a possible dispute and strike to resist that attack. The union will ensure there is a national focus on this campaign. In wider politics, a light is being shone on the relationship between the government as an employer and the civil service. Clearly there are tensions at the top, in terms of how the people around Mr Cummings want...

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