Our campaign at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea increasingly looks like becoming a long and bitter dispute. The union is in it for the long haul and it’s certainly necessary here. The next selective action strikes will be on Monday 5 July, Wednesday 7 July and Friday 9 July
We still don’t know who pulled the plug on the deal that was on the table a few weeks ago and which could have settled the dispute. All the signs suggest it was Grant Shapps, the transport minister. MPs have asked questions in Parliament about who withdrew the deal, and he’s simply refused to answer.
In the workplace, we’re seeing a targeted campaign of denunciation, slander, and rumour-mongering spread about key branch activists. A petition has been launched demanding an end to the strikes, this is being promoted via an anonymous twitter account. It’s all part of a coordinated campaign by management to undermine the dispute.
The strikes have been hurting the employer, so much so that DVLA is shipping out work to private contractors to help clear the backlog created by the strikes. We’re looking at what potential action we might be able to take around that. We are discussing possible forms of escalation, including longer strikes and ways to spread the dispute.
In Royal Parks, the notice for starting the ballot will go out this week. In collaboration with the United Voices of the World, who initially organised the workers, we’ve already talked about a programme of action should the ballot be successful, which will involve escalating strikes taking place over several weeks.
On 21 June, there was a meeting of security guards employed by Mitie on the Cabinet Office contract. Mitie is threatening to use “fire and rehire” tactics across its civil service contracts. The Cabinet Office security guards are absolutely up for fighting that; we’ll support and empower them and look to spread that combativeness across other Mitie contracts.
We will step up our recruitment and organisation amongst Mitie workers, and are looking to coordinate across contracts in a way we hadn’t done before. We’ve written to the Scottish and Welsh governments demanding that they don’t extend or renew contracts with Mitie, and we’ll look to do the same with the Greater London Auithority. We will make the same demand of the Westminster government, but in the other three cases the administrations are either Labour or, by their own lights, pro-trade union, so we have more leverage there. We want a prohibition on the use of “fire and rehire” tactics written into procurement policies, so no civil service contracts will go to any company that doesn’t commit not to using such tactics. Ultimately of course we want all work brought in-house, and workers employed directly on civil service terms and conditions.
We have another potential dispute against “fire and rehire” at Homes England, a stand-alone body under the ambit of MHCLG, where we’re waiting for management responses to our demands that they drop a “fire and rehire” threat.
• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of the civil service workers’ union PCS, writing here in a personal capacity