Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea will strike from 6-9 April. It’s clear from last-ditch talks that the bosses aren’t budging, so strikes will go ahead. The issue is workplace safety; far more workers than strictly necessary have been made to come into the workplace, leading to numerous Covid outbreaks. Our demand is for all workers to be sent home, and for an emergency working arrangement, overseen by union reps, to be agreed which ensures only emergency and essential work is done on-site. Longer term we want investment in equipment and software to ensure this scenario never takes place again, and workers are fully equipped to work from home if necessary.
Outsourced workers in Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), part of the Ministry of Justice, employed by the contractor OCS, will strike from 13-15 and 20-22 April. These workers are paid minimum wage, and are striking to win a real living wage. We’re calling for donations to their strike fund here, as we want to ensure these low-paid workers are able to take sustained action.
Directly-employed HMCTS workers were due to strike in two locations, but the relevant reps’ committee has agreed a deal around Covid working arrangements. It doesn’t meet our central demand, which was for everyone to work from home and all work apart from emergency and essential work to be done remotely. However, it does tighten up the policing of distancing arrangements in the workplace.
Our members working in passport control at Heathrow Airport voted to suspend a planned strike, as a proposal has been made in their dispute around rostering arrangements. It’s important to stress that although the strike has been suspended, the dispute remains live. If the new proposal is tested out and members feel it doesn’t address the issues in practice, action can be reinstated.
In the Department for Work and Pensions, I believe we may be heading back into dispute over workplace safety. Managers continue to push for more work to be done in person, and to bring increasing numbers of workers back into offices from the 12 April onwards.
• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity