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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 May 2020

Unsafe Workplace? "It's up to you" PCS tells reps and members

Coronavirus

Coronavirus   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in PCS and Broad Left Network

PCS union reps and members at Paisley Jobcentre walked out on 24 April. Following an outbreak of Covid-19 in their office, they reached an agreement allowing staff to go home with the office closed for 72 hours. (See 'Civil servants in Paisley protest after Covid outbreak' at socialistparty.org.uk)

Union reps at Paisley acted decisively to protect themselves and their members. They correctly determined that the health and safety of members was paramount, and collectively refused to work in a workplace they deemed unsafe.

But had they relied on advice and a lead from the union nationally, they would have been disappointed and still waiting.

A PCS Briefing, "Coronavirus - can employees refuse to attend the work place", has been recently issued. At the end of a lengthy cataloguing of bits of legislation on health and safety, the briefing concludes with a statement bereft of guidance and leadership: "This briefing provides general information about statutory rights which are available to all employees in the UK. We are not advising you to do, or refrain from doing, anything." In other words, sort it out yourself - leaving members and activists to their fate.

The incident at Paisley highlighted the need to secure arrangements which give better protection to members.

Other areas have successfully achieved this. For example a 'serious incident protocol' has been negotiated in HMRC. It has forced the closure of several HMRC buildings for periods of up to a week. The DWP PCS executive committee should negotiate a similar or better agreement for our members, and the national executive committee should try to get a similar or improved agreement to cover all our workplaces.

Broad Left Network members were active in the Paisley Jobcentre demand for a safe workplace, and in the action supporting this demand. We have no hesitation in recommending reps follow their example.

PCS should demand of management that they make all the workplace adjustments needed to ensure workers safety. These include:

Where demands are not met to the satisfaction of reps and members, a car park meeting should be held (with proper social distancing arrangements in place), to agree collectively how to respond. Stick together until a solution is agreed and accepted by members. Yes, unity is our strength in these difficult times. A lesson it seems the national leadership of the union has yet to learn. Our members' safety is not for sale.

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In The Socialist 6 May 2020:


What we think

Bosses push to lift lockdown - they only care about profits


Coronavirus news

Dispatches from the NHS front

Bail out the real wealth creators, not the rich

Homes needed to end overcrowding

Homeless left on streets during pandemic

Pay full fees for virtual courses? - No way!

Them&Us

Your donations can keep the Socialist going


Test and trace

Test and trace: workers need a real plan

Tories using pandemic to shift lab testing out of NHS


Workplace news

Nationalise British Airways to stop 12,000 redundancies

Postal workers force Royal Mail back

No increase in transport capacity without adequate safety precautions for workers and passengers

Unsafe Workplace? "It's up to you" PCS tells reps and members

Further protests in Ireland against Debenhams closures - UK fightback needed

Rolls Royce threatens 8,000 job losses

EDF Energy workers furloughed on 100% pay


International news

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide

Trump puts profit before safety (again)


Lessons from history

The Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2


Obituary

Peter Hadden remembered


Readers' opinion

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

TV Review BBC Panorama: PPE shortage - how many lives will be lost?


 

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