The union has commenced discussions with the Cabinet Office on a return-to-work protocol for the entire civil service, but we’re having to fight the managements of individual departments who want to pre-empt that by unilaterally bringing in their own return-to-work plans, prior to a national agreement being in place, or simply pressuring people back to work.
The first formal meeting with Cabinet Office will take place this week. Our National Executive Committee will meet to review our position; currently our policy is that home working should continue for all workers who can work from home, with any return to the workplace to be voluntary and conditional on risk assessments, overseen by union reps, which include risks assessing workers’ journeys to and from work.
We’re also demanding PPE for specific work tasks if that’s necessary and appropriate. Any protocol must apply equally to directly-employed and outsourced workers.
In situations where we feel members are being pressured back to work in conditions in which it’s unsafe, we’re encouraging members to organise collectively and refuse to work in those unsafe conditions. Where we’re not able to build up confidence for a collective refusal, we issue advice to all members about the rights to refuse as individuals.
• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity