During an online question and answer session with Labour leader Keir Starmer at TUC Congress, PCS president Fran Heathcote asked if he agreed with our opposition to government plans to force civil servants back into workplaces.
We have rebuffed the government’s back-to-office demands as irresponsible as Covid cases rise and further lockdown restrictions are in place across the UK.
The leader of the opposition, himself self-isolating at home, addressed Congress this morning (15) and afterwards answered questions from leading union representatives.
In his address, Keir Starmer thanked the trade union movement for the work it has done during the pandemic. He said “the pandemic has exposed the ingrained injustices and inequalities in our society” and that “after all the sacrifice and loss we cannot go back to business as usual.”
For PCS, president Fran Heathcote asked: ““You will have noted how the issue of returning to workplaces in the civil service has been politicised by Boris Johnson. Can you assure PCS members that you and the Labour party support us in opposing any forced return to workplaces?”
In reply Keir Starmer said: “We all want people to return safely to work. I pay tribute to the TUC and trade unions for the work that was done leading the arguments and actually leading the work on risk assessments at work.
“A return to work is very much a question of the government comms and a question of space. The government comms has been all over the place on this and space is an issue. There are many workplaces where space is the real problem.
“We all do want people to be able to safely return to work because that’s in the best interests of everybody and the best interests of the country.”