PCS

John Moloney's column: Outsourced cleaners strike

Outsourced cleaners in HMRC offices in Merseyside begin their next strike on Monday 3 August. They’ll strike until 28 August, demanding living wages and full occupational sick pay. This latter demand is clearly vital in terms of safety and infection control during the pandemic, and is the central demand of the Safe and Equal campaign in which Workers’ Liberty members have been central, so hopefully Safe and Equal can play a role in supporting the strike. For how you can support the strike, see justiceforhmrccleaners.wordpress.com The unions will be holding a consultative ballot of our members...

Ballot for action on job cuts

We’re balloting our members working across the four Tate galleries, in London, Liverpool, and St. Ives, for industrial action to resist job cuts. The ballot runs from 22 July to 3 August. A consultative ballot of members has already returned a 93% vote in favour of action on a 99% turnout. The employer wants to cut 200 jobs, as part of a cuts package aimed at saving £1 million this financial year. That’s part of a wider picture in the culture sector, which has taken a significant financial hit in the pandemic, which bosses will be looking to recoup via cuts. Our reps and branches have done...

Jobcentres reopen

Jobcentres have re-opened to the public. Management have stated to the civil servants’ union PCS that just over half of jobcentres in London and Essex are open, although footfall remains extremely low. PCS provided members with advice on their legal right to withdraw themselves from serious and imminent danger. As the national risk assessment, and therefore the risk assessment for each office, had not been signed off, PCS stated, “ (we are) not satisfied that the risk assessment is safe. PCS do not believe that all necessary safety arrangements are in place and the level of risk remains...

Victory on sick pay (John Moloney's column)

Outsourced workers at the Ministry of Justice, organised by the United Voices of the World (UVW) and PCS unions, have won a significant concession from OCS, the outsourced contractor. After a substantial campaign, spurred on by the tragic death of UVW member Emanuel Gomes, who died after working through his symptoms due to being refused full sick pay, OCS has agreed to retrospectively pay full sick pay for workers who’ve taken time off since April, for a period of up to 14 days. There’s still more to fight for, as OCS is still refusing to make an open-ended commitment to pay full sickness and...

The right to refuse (John Moloney's column)

The government is pressing ahead with its plan to reopen job centres and driving instruction centres to the public from 6 July. We’ve given advice to our members in those sectors that we thinking this return to public-facing work is unsafe, and have reminded them of their rights to refuse unsafe work. We’ll back up groups of members who take that action. We don’t know exactly how things will play out. 60% of staff in the Department for Work and Pensions are already working from the physical workplace, rather than from home. DWP workers have continued to see particularly vulnerable claimants...

PCS tells members: you have the right to refuse unsafe work

On 29 June, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that it was re-introducing benefit conditionality, or sanctions, from 1 July. Conditionality was suspended at the start of lockdown for all claimants as it wasn’t practical to look for work. This also meant that staff could be redeployed on processing the millions of new Universal Credit claims. Secretary of State (and arch right-winger) Therese Coffey announced her intention that 14 Jobcentres would open on 2 July. As it happens only one opened, Marylebone. That was going to open come what may so Coffey could get her photo op...

Jobcentre workers and Covid-19: Unsafe, unworkable, unacceptable

The Secretary of the State for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that she wants job centres to open from 4 July, with mass opening to the public on Monday 6 July. This is unsafe, and unworkable — there is no means to safely distance in an interview with a claimant in a small job centre, and no mitigations and additional safety measures have been installed, such as perspex screens or additional hand sanitising facilities. The government also plans to introduce stricter conditionality on claims, meaning claimants will face more stringent checks on how much job searching...

Section 44 and the civil service

Civil service employers have been reticent to go for a return-to-work drive in the short to medium term. The Cabinet Office informed the union that they would continue to support homeworking. That approach isn’t completely uniform, and the Cabinet Office hasn’t exerted any particular pressure to rein in departmental employers who are taking a different approach, but there has been no central, concerted, back-to-work lurch. The major exception to this is the outsourced contractors, who have behaved appallingly and are forcing workers to continue working despite the buildings they clean or...

It's your right to refuse unsafe work

Watch the video of the article on this page: As workers are encouraged to return to the workplace, as part of the government’s botched and reckless easing of lockdown measures, an urgent discussion is taking place across workplaces and through unions about resisting a lurch back to work in unsafe conditions. School workers’ unions are organising to resist a planned reopening from 1 June of schools (beyond the vulnerable and key workers’ children for whom they have remained open throughout. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, and some other Labour councils have said they support the...

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