PCS calls for an investigation into Cabinet Office over discrimination  

09 Dec 2020

We have written to the department telling it that there needs to be an urgent independent inquiry into accusations of bullying harassment and discrimination within the department.

According to the latest preliminary People Survey results in 2020, 10% of Cabinet Office staff feel they have been bullied in the last year.  

Although that is a 5% drop on last year, it is coupled with a 14% drop in those who said they went on to report the incident and a 15% rise in those who felt they were punished for raising it. 

In the People Survey 2019, 34% of staff said they want to leave the Department in the next year or as soon as possible.  

And just over 1 in 5 (22%) of staff said they wanted to stay for at least 3 years or more. 

In a letter to cabinet office secretary, Alex Chisholm, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka wrote:  

“Our reps and members in the Department believe that all of the above figures underestimate the true picture as many of those suffering do not complete the survey. Many have lost faith in the system and some fear being identified and suffering further. 

“We also note that the overall response rate has dropped by 6%. The Cabinet Office is at the heart of government and is supposed to set a good example to the rest of the Civil Service, while ensuring the delivery of the government’s key objectives.  

“These figures reflect the sad reality of a workforce that is being bullied and discriminated against, with many feeling their only option is to find work elsewhere.”

Mr Serwotka went on to outline how large numbers of BAME members of the union had come forward to highlight increased prejudiced they had faced in the workplace since the death of George Floyd in the US and the resulting BLM protests.  

He added that disabled members had also come forward arguing that they had faced direct and indirect discrimination at work.  

He wrote: “Members have also told me they find it particularly galling that the Department supports the awarding of the Order of St Michael and St George, the medal that supposedly depicts St Michael standing on Satan, however the actual image used depicts what clearly looks like a white man standing on the neck of a chained black person. 

“Similarly, we have heard from disabled staff about the direct and indirect discrimination they have had to face, including some waiting months and years for reasonable adjustments to be put in place. I am aware that you have been in dialogue with PCS representatives in the Department over these issues.” 

Mr Serwotka concluded by warning the department that if it fails to carry out an independent investigation it will refer the Cabinet Office to the EHRC.  

He wrote: “The only way to instigate the kind of radical culture change that is needed is for an independent body to scrutinise the practices, procedures and ways of working in the Department, with real power to bring about meaningful change.  

“We have noted EHRC’s recent investigation of the Home Office in relation to the Windrush scandal and we would urge you to set up an independent inquiry into the Cabinet Office now.” 

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