Unions are at war with Boris Johnson over returning to the office after he asked civil servants to set example to end working from home
Boris Johnson faces a fierce battle with union leaders after they frustrated his drive to get Britain back to work.
In a bid to return the country to ‘complete normality’, the Prime Minister this week scrapped official guidance instructing people to work from home.
He said he wanted civil servants to set an example by returning to the office – and yesterday ordered Cabinet ministers to ensure their Whitehall staff resumed ‘normal working patterns’ as soon as possible. But the unions resisted, branding Mr Johnson’s demands ‘insulting’ and saying the move to get workers back at their desks was ‘reckless’.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents civil servants and other public sector workers, warned against a ‘headlong rush’ back to the workplace.
Boris Johnson faces a fierce battle with union leaders after they frustrated his drive to get Britain back to work
In a bid to return the country to ‘complete normality’, the Prime Minister this week scrapped official guidance instructing people to work from home
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents civil servants and other public sector workers, warned against a ‘headlong rush’ back to the workplace
The FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, also reacted angrily, saying the world of work had ‘changed for good’ – despite the easing of the Covid threat.
The Cabinet Office has refused to put a target date on when ministers want to see a full return of Whitehall staff – leading to fears that many could stay working from home for weeks.
One source at the Ministry of Justice suggested workers would return only in phases rather than en masse.
Tory MPs and business leaders demanded that Mr Johnson face down the unions – saying failure to act would be disastrous for the economy, and particularly city centres.
In a string of developments yesterday:
- Business giants began calling staff back to offices, with a string of banks, advertising firms and insurers announcing plans to get workers back at their desks.
- Commuters poured back on to public transport, with figures showing that congestion levels during morning rush hour in London were up 72 パーセント.
- Dozens of schools across the country angered parents by defying ministers’ calls to ditch masks in classrooms.
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan sparked a row by warning that face coverings will remain a ‘condition of carriage’ on all TfL services, including Tubes, バス, overground trains, trams and river boats.
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Britain should not shut down the economy again to deal with Covid even if it continues to claim thousands of lives a year.
- Figures showed that almost two-thirds of London hospital patients with Covid – and 70 per cent in one part of the country – were actually admitted for another reason and the virus was ‘incidental’.
- Following a row over official modelling, the Government’s advisers Sage admitted the high levels of Omicron hospitalisations forecast last month had not occurred.
Mr Johnson continued to face claims over the ‘Partygate’ row, as a Tory MP made extraordinary allegations of ‘blackmail’ by Conservative whips.
Mr Johnson continued to face claims over the ‘Partygate’ row, as a Tory MP made extraordinary allegations of ‘blackmail’ by Conservative whips
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it was ‘selfish’ of the unions to back continued home working because town centre businesses such as sandwich shops and pubs would close if staff did not return to their desks.
ENGLAND’S COVID RULE CHANGES AT A GLANCE
The Prime Minister said that ‘from now’ No10’s work from home guidance will no longer apply.
Face masks will no longer be compulsory in secondary school classrooms. Mr Johnson confirmed masks also won’t be needed in communal areas like corridors over the coming weeks.
From next Thursday (1月 27):
Covid passes that show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test will not be required to gain entry to venues and events.
Face masks will no longer be compulsory in any public spaces – including shops and public transport. But Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has confirmed that they will remain mandatory on Tfl services including the Tube, meaning passengers not wearing one can be turned away.
Restrictions on visits to care homes will be eased, which are due to be announced in the coming days.
From March 24:
Compulsory self-isolation for people who test positive for Covid will be scrapped. Mr Johnson said he could bring this rule change forward;
Other laws, like the requirement to give your address to NHS Test and Trace if you have Covid, could also go.
‘When they eventually go back to their office there won’t be anywhere to get a sandwich from or sit down in a pub – they’ll all close,' 彼は言った. ‘It’s selfish and self-centred just to stay with hybrid working. If unions had their way you’d get paid for doing no work, but the reality is that we should be back at our offices.’
Tory former minister David Jones said: ‘It’s time to return to a more normal way of living. That includes returning to the office, which is significantly healthier than being holed up at home.
‘People benefit hugely from interaction with colleagues. It’s better for mental health and also helps professional development. We also need to restore vibrancy to our urban centres, thereby helping our economy to grow.’
Lord Rose, former chairman of Marks & スペンサー, told LBC Radio he had been calling for a return to the office for months, 追加する: ‘I cannot believe that we’ve got a nation sitting at home now cowed by this Government, because they’re fearful of this virus – which has been unpleasant, it has killed a lot of people – but it is something we now have to live with.’
昨夜, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said ministers had been told to get their offices ready for the full return of staff. しかしながら, when contacted by the Daily Mail, individual departments refused to say when all staff would be expected to return to the office. They also refused to say what proportion of officials were working in the office at the moment.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, said it was ‘insulting’ to ‘force’ officials back to the office. ‘The idea that forcing civil servants back into the office will somehow show a lead to the rest of the economy is frankly insulting to all those businesses who have made decisions that enhance their efficiency and profitability.’
The PCS union said: ‘There should not be a reckless, headlong rush to increase numbers at workplaces. 代わりに, there needs to be a properly planned approach, which allows the employer and the union to negotiate safe arrangements.’
An aide to one minister said: ‘There are still not as many officials in the office as there should be.’ Mr Javid admitted his department could not get all the staff in because there was not enough space.