18 Days Remaining

Saturday 13th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

STAFF at the Equality and Human Rights Commission will take further strike action and launch legal action over its victimisation of union reps and failure to reinstate staff sacked by email, the PCS union announced yesterday.

Members working in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester will take 20 days of rolling strike action in a long-running dispute over budget cuts and redundancies, beginning on Monday May 15 at the Glasgow office.

Nine members of staff were issued with dismissal notices in February — some by email with just 24 hours’ notice — and three more were sacked by email weeks later.

Of the eight union members made redundant, six are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, five are disabled and seven are older workers.

Four are also union reps and one was a lead negotiator opposing the cuts.

Following protests, the staff were put back on the payroll but the dismissal notices have not been withdrawn and the individuals concerned are still banned from the premises.

PCS said the commission had failed to adequately consider the equality implications of its restructuring, something it is responsible for ensuring that other public bodies comply with.

The union has warned the body that further cuts could threaten its United Nations-accredited status.

The commission’s expenditure report shows it spent a staggering £90,876 on agency staff and £17,900 on recruitment costs last month alone.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The fact that the government has cut the commission to a quarter of its original size demonstrates the Tories’ lack of commitment to equality and human rights issues.”

Commission chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “We have made every attempt to end this dispute with the union and have offered them concessions at every stage of talks. We are now focused on delivering our business plan.

“We are unclear as to their rationale for continuing action.”