Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Passport offices, DVLA and student loan staff may strike against PM public sector job cuts

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Unions warn that strikes are “very much on the table” over the Prime Minister’s plans to cut 91,000 public sector jobs.

The Prime Minister sparked outrage and dismay from civil servants and unions after he ordered his Cabinet to cut up to 91,000 jobs and cut the service by a fifth in a bid to save £3.5billion a year to lower the cost of living.

People already suffering from backlogs of obtaining passports and driver’s licenses could be hit by further delays in a nationwide strike over Boris Johnson’s controversial plans to ax thousands of public sector jobs.

Unions warned that national strike action was “very much on the table”. I learned that senior officials had privately warned Human Resources Ministers that despite their claims having to decide which services to cut, the move was “no question of doing less”.

Officials said the announcement had already hit a rock bottom in morale amid existing staff cuts and a pay tightening.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents frontline workers in 400 departments, will hold an emergency meeting of its executive committee next week to discuss coordinated action, including strikes.

That could include strikes by staff at the backlog-plagued Passport Office and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), PCS said.

Staff in various government departments dealing with issues catching up with Covid schools, student loan schemes, difficulties enforcing Brexit border controls, serving courts and prison services, dealing with a “massive staff retention issue” in customs and the issuance of heavy spending on truck driver’s licenses could all go on strike as well.

Paul O’Connor, chief negotiator at PCS, said I if cuts fall across the board, “unless the government changes course and we take industrial action, it is unlikely that any of these areas will remain untouched”.

“When we look at industrial action, we will clearly focus on areas that could harm the government’s work and cause it to change course,” he added.

Unable to say that overburdened departments such as Passport and DVLA would be protected from the cuts, Downing Street said it was up to individual permanent secretaries and cabinet ministers to decide, insisting “this is a target for the public as a whole.” service is”.

This was announced by the Prime Minister Daily Mail: “We need to lower government costs to lower the cost of living.”

Government Efficiency Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the plan, saying the job cuts would bring numbers back to 2016 levels after additional staff were hired to help deal with the pandemic and the “aftermath of Brexit”. to help.

He insisted the cuts were “not about doing less” but “to do things more efficiently”.

But seen in an email to staff IDepartment of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Undersecretary Tamara Finkelstein said the plans would present “considerable challenge” and “require prioritizing what we can do and deliver”.

Jim Harra, permanent secretary at HM Revenue and Customs, was forced to write an apology to staff who first heard about the cuts from the media.

A source at an unnamed department already making staff cuts as part of the current spending review said officials will be forced to compete for permanent contracts “Hunger Gamesstyle,” with several officers prosecuting each post under conditions that “beat morale.”

A whistleblower named Vanessa, who works at the UK Health Security Agency, which is leading the UK’s pandemic response, told Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show it was in “complete disarray,” with lives at risk from downsizing.

An official from another department said: “It’s another slap in the face to hard-working officials across the country who have kept this government running while politicians get mad and break their own rules.

“Is it any wonder morale is so low and so many talented, experienced employees choose to leave themselves?”

Sam Freedman, senior fellow at the Institute for Government, said the constant attacks on public services by government ministers are having an impact on staff retention.

“I have never experienced such low morale because [these cuts] and working from home, plus the Partygate stuff,” he said.

“They’ve already lost a lot of talent and a lot of people are thinking about leaving. You are very demoralized. It’s no fun being attacked all the time.”

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