Union chief warns of 'serious unrest' if ministers order staff back

Union chief warns of 'serious unrest' if ministers order staff back

July 26, 2020

Union chief warns of ‘serious industrial unrest’ if ministers order civil servants to go back to their desks

  • Union chief said ministers will face ‘serious industrial unrest’ if they tell staff to return
  • Hardline stance threatens Boris Johnson’s attempt to tackle ‘backlog Britain’
  • Huge delays have built up in issuing official documents such as passports 

A union chief has warned that civil servants may go on strike if ordered back to their desks to clear the backlogs in public services.

Mark Serwotka said ministers will face ‘serious industrial unrest’ if they tell their staff to return.

The hardline stance of the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union threatens Boris Johnson’s attempt to tackle ‘backlog Britain’.

These are the huge delays that have built up in issuing official documents such as passports, driving licences and birth certificates.

The hardline stance of the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union threatens Boris Johnson’s attempt to tackle ‘backlog Britain’

It also threatens efforts to breathe life into towns and cities by encouraging office staff back to work.

Mr Johnson wants plans from ministers this week to clear the delays that have built up since civil servants were told to work from home in March. Last week civil service chief Alex Chisholm told Whitehall departments to start getting officials back in from August 1. The PCS is the biggest civil service union, with 200,000-plus members.

After being briefed on the back-to-work plans, it told members they did not have to co-operate and blamed the instruction on ‘political pressure exerted by Tory MPs’.

In a letter to Mr Chisholm, Mr Serwotka wrote: ‘This unnecessary and hasty push for an upscaling at workplaces has the potential to create serious industrial unrest. It is clear this is a political decision to use public sector workers to prop up a decaying economic model.’

Last night ex-Cabinet minister Damian Green said the strike threat was ‘appalling’.

He added: ‘It is clear some services cannot be run properly working from home.’ 

Mark Serwotka said ministers will face ‘serious industrial unrest’ if they tell their staff to return

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