Bullying is not just Rutnam

Submitted by AWL on 4 March, 2020 - 8:23 Author: John Moloney
Philip 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 to restructure the civil service, and possible resistance to that from some senior managers.

It's perfectly conceivable that senior bosses, like Philip Rutnam, have been the victims of bullying by hard-right Tories.

Unfortunately, the bullying, intense workloads, and overbearing management faced by much less high-profile, far lower-paid, frontline civil service workers, including outsourced workers, every day has not received equivalent media attention.

We're yet to see any concrete details of Mr Cummings' plans, but whatever he is planning, our union will resist any attempts to worsen our members' working conditions.

Outsourced workers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office concluded a month-long strike on 28 February. Reps are meeting with Interserve, the outsourced contractor, along with the conciliation service Acas, next week to discuss union recognition. If the dispute is not resolved, the workers have already made clear they are prepared to escalate their action.

Our members on the ISS cleaning contract at three HMRC offices, in Liverpool, Bootle, and Birmingham, have returned a resounding majority in a vote for strikes to win living wages, sick pay, and union recognition. They voted 97% in favour of action, on an 89% turnout.

For the Merseyside cleaners, who've been in dispute for some time and have struck multiple times, this was a re-ballot, as the mandate of their original ballot had expired. We were able to spread the dispute this time by involving cleaners in Birmingham.

A programme of rolling strikes is due to begin across all three offices from 16 March.

• John Moloney is Assistant General Secretary of PCS, writing here in a personal capacity.

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