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Jon Bigger Victimisation Update: Employer calls online support for #PCS Rep ‘negative’ in document to staff

May 2, 2013 4 comments

Imagine arriving at work, logging into your account and reading a document that described you as a “former employee”.  That is exactly what Jon Bigger faced a couple of weeks ago when he arrived for work.  Just to clarify, Jon has been given his notice but that doesn’t run out until August so he is very much still an employee of the organisation.

The Corporate Strategy Directorate produces a weekly summary of social media activity about passports from twitter.  They call this the Social Media Dashboard.  As Jon is a member of the Directorate he gets copied into this dashboard.

A recent version of it contained information split into negative and positive comments about the Identity and Passport Service.  Highlighting ‘negative’ comments the dashboard included the following: “There has also been some activity regarding the compulsory redundancy of PCS rep Jon Bigger.”  It then went on to mention that Jon had received substantial support on twitter and it referred to him as a “former employee”.

The dashboard is sent to everyone in the Corporate Strategy Directorate and presumably some people beyond the Directorate.  It speaks volumes that not only did people in his own Directorate think he was a former employee but they also clearly didn’t realise that he was on their email distribution list.  The rules are quite clear on harassment at work and this obviously falls foul of the policy.

Jon sent an email to everyone in the Directorate.  That email is written below in its entirety but without the attachment mentioned:

Hello all,

I logged on to find an official document has been forwarded to everyone in the directorate referring to me as a “former employee”.  The document is attached below.  As you can see rumours of me leaving the organisation have been wildly exaggerated.

The fact that I’m mentioned at all is worrying and is symbolic of the way I have been treated by the Agency and the Home Office.  I note that the fact people are supporting me on social media has been construed as ‘negative’ on the dashboard.  I’m personally very pleased with all the support.  I deserve it and it’s a very positive thing.

I’m not sure who heads up the Customer Intelligence Team but two issues stand out for that individual.  The first is around being factual; I am a current employee.  The second is around having dignity and respect for those you work with; I respect you and I expect it in return.  Not to mention in detail the data protection implications.

I would appreciate the person responsible for the team contacting me immediately with an apology please.  Following which I shall be considering what further action may be necessary.  Hopefully the apology will suffice.

Thanks,
Jon.

There has indeed been a great deal of support for Jon online.

Since Jon wrote his email and presumably because senior management realise how appalling it was to mention him in this official document and spread it around the workplace, he has received an apology.  However, we consider it important to keep people up to date with the way our reps are being treated.  Jon is not the only person to suffer: we’ve had a number of dismissals in recent years, reps banned from the computer system and others going through formal processes.

In the Home Office we face a hostile employer but we do so with passion and commitment.  Whatever they throw at us we stay and grow stronger.

Victimisation of reps in the Home Office must cease.  Jon needs to be offered a role so that his redundancy can be avoided.

Branch Executive Committee

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Jon Bigger Victimisation – The Facts #PCS

May 1, 2013 1 comment

The Branch will note that long standing Branch Secretary and current Branch Rep, Jon Bigger, recently lost his appeal against redundancy.  It’s important that people understand the nature of this case and the facts involved.  These issues are well known to IPS and the Home Office and we consider that a serious injustice has occurred.

Background information

  • Jon was declared surplus in June 2010.
  • Just weeks prior to this he was banned from the Admin IT system for allegedly promoting strike action via departmental facilities.  This was categorically not the case and 1 week later IPS agreed and his access was restored.
  • In November 2010 a circular was issued by Jon making the claim that IPS was institutionally racist and highlighting specific issues at the Hannibal House office.  This was criticised on the intranet across IPS.  All the points in the circular were dismissed as factually incorrect and sensationalist despite HR members behind the scenes agreeing with them.  Jon never received an apology for the criticism of the circular but senior managers have since apologised for the situation in that office.
  • Jon has applied for several roles since being declared surplus.  He has been the only candidate in most cases and they still haven’t hired him.
  • In one he was told by the hiring manager to prepare a presentation for the interview.  When he attended he wasn’t asked for the presentation.
  • One hiring manager sent him an email at his home address telling him that he would only be considered for the role if he gave up his union work.  We consider this to be harassment.
  • In another he was asked to complete a 2 and a half hour exercise prior to a 1 and a half hour interview, for a job he’d done before and where he was the only candidate.  The hiring manager did not fill the role for many months and forced his team to work overtime to cover the gap.
  • When applying for a role in communications he was told by HR that he had been successful. This news was delivered to him by telephone while he was on leave.  This would have solved the problems and avoided his redundancy.  On returning to work he found a business case had been signed off by the Executive Director for that area claiming that he would not be able to do the role even with 6 months of training despite his extensive work in drafting and editing communications for PCS.
  • In the latest example a business case was written claiming that he would pose a serious risk to the organisation if he were recruited to the role.
  • Jon is the first person that we know of in the civil service who hasn’t been offered a role at this stage of the process.  Nobody has explained to us why he has been treated differently – but perhaps the work he has done over the last 5 years is an indication.

Trade Union Roles

We take the view that Jon’s record as a PCS rep is important.  He has defended members strongly over the last 5 years.  His work includes the following:

  • Branch Secretary for 4 years.
  • A member of the IPS / Home Office Group Executive Committee for 3 years.
  • A member of the IPS / Home Office Group Editorial Board for 3 years.
  • A branch delegate at conference for 4 years.
  • A member of the national PCS Editorial Board for the last year.
  • Jon represents every PCS member across London and the south-east as Vice-Chair of the regional committee.
  • At the TUC, he has been Secretary to the SERTUC International Committee for the past 2 years.
  • Jon was elected a student rep for his MA in International Labour and Trade Union Studies and he’s active in the National Union of Students in what spare time he has.
  • He is a health and safety rep and has worked hard to combat work related stress in the IPS.
  • He has a diploma in Trade Union Equality work and is passionate about ensuring a more equal workplace and society.
  • Personal casework – Jon has supported dozens of people.  There are people in IPS today who have benefited from this in terms of being able to keep their jobs, and not progress onto further stages in formal processes.  There are others who have left IPS and benefited from Jon’s work in Employment Tribunals.
  • At the Civil Service Compensation Board he has represented members successfully and reversed their dismissals, enabling them to receive significant compensation.
  • In one case he was able to successfully ensure that 4 members on temporary promotion for several years were promoted to the higher grade as their roles were now custom and practice.
  • Jon was involved with the negotiations that saved the Newport Passport Office from closure and prevented major job losses at the GRO.
  • Just yesterday he was involved in a meeting with management to ensure that contracts in the part of the Branch are not changed without proper and detailed discussion.

It’s worth considering the timescales involved.  Jon became a rep in spring 2008, just 5 years ago.  2 years later he was declared surplus.  The majority of his union work has been done with this cloud hanging over him.

We are now looking at next steps in this case.  We hope you value his work and will support whatever we need to do to get reinstatement.  Jon has been treated appallingly and if they get away with it we will all come to regret it.  We must never forget that the Home Office has a record of poor industrial relations and attacking PCS reps.  When they do so they are really attacking us all.

Home Office #PCS Demo Pictorial – #supportJonBigger

April 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Here’s a selection of photos from the demonstration yesterday outside Home Office HQ, including some snazzy placards made by a supporter and family!

End Home Office Victimisation – reinstate Jon Bigger!

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#PCS Protests at Home Office against Victimisation of Reps #supportJonBigger

April 11, 2013 Leave a comment
English: The Home Office, Marsham Street, West...

English: The Home Office, Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday, April 10 PCS organised a demonstration outside Home Office headquarters building on Marsham Street to protest at the way PCS reps are being victimised. This was planned to coincide with the appeal hearing against a redundancy notice issued to Jon Bigger one of our local branch representatives and former branch secretary.

Just days previously management postponed the appeal hearing but the demonstration went ahead as planned. Jon’s appeal will now be heard on Tuesday, April 16 and we will forward details of our plans to mark this event in the near future.

The demonstration was well attended and the sun came out which was a great help. Branch chair and assistant group secretary Paul McGoay introduced a number of speakers at the event including Andy Jennings (group president), Joel Hirsch (former branch secretary), Bernard Regan (chair of the SERTUC International Committee), and Jon himself.  We were also visited by senior officials from the TUC in the south-east.

A victimised rep from London Metropolitan University, Max Watson, spoke passionately about his fight against the discrimination he faces along with his colleagues Steve Jefferys and Jawad Botmah. This along with the speech by group president Andy Jennings was a useful reminder that union busting is alive and well not just in Jon’s case but across the Home Office and beyond.

The Home Office will be surprised by the amount of people that attended from such a diverse range of areas.  He was especially pleased to see some members come out to join the protest. Jon has worked extensively in the trade union movement over the last few years and has held positions at the TUC where he’s done a great deal of work to combine local issues with those of an international nature. He is also on the PCS regional committee for London and there was a great presence from PCS HQ who provided the logistics for the event.

The campaign for Jon’s reinstatement will continue and the next stage will be Tuesday. The Home Office is now acutely aware of the damage their decisions have done. The handing of a redundancy notice to Jon is unjust at a time when they are hiring people at his grade. Support the campaign and help PCS end of the victimisation of its activists in the Department.

JOIN THE DEMONSTRATION – SUPPORT JON BIGGER

April 9, 2013 1 comment
English: The current offices of the British Ho...

English: The current offices of the British Home Office, located at 2 Marsham Street, London. Photo taken on 15 November 2005 by User:Canley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Show your support for Jon and attend the demonstration outside Home Office HQ in Marsham Street at 12:30pm 10th April 2013.

Jon Bigger, a longstanding PCS representative in the Identity and Passport Service, has been issued with a compulsory redundancy notice. PCS believes that the Home Office has broken its own rules which dictate that those facing redundancy should have preferential treatment for roles.

Jon was declared surplus in June 2010 and was told that the Home Office would do everything in its power to avoid his redundancy. He applied for various jobs within the Home Office and wider civil service but has been barred on every single occasion on spurious grounds.

On one occasion Jon was forced to go through a two-hour exam and a full interview for a job he had previously done. On another occasion he was asked to prepare a presentation for an interview but not asked to deliver it at the interview. In both cases he was the only candidate.

After successfully applying for a role in the communications team, it was later taken from him as he was told he would not be able to fulfil the role even with training. Jon has a great deal of communications experience and was the only candidate for the position.

At a recent hearing the manager arrived with Jon’s decision letter already signed and sealed in an envelope before he had even heard Jon’s evidence.

PCS believes that he should not be considered as redundant when roles at his grade are being advertised. Jon remains willing to work anywhere in London within the civil service.

Please show your support for Jon and join the demonstration on Wednesday 10 April 2013 outside 2 Marsham Street.

Home Office Victimisation: Department has nothing to say. #JonBigger

April 3, 2013 Leave a comment

The Home Office has started to respond to letters sent to the permanent secretary regarding the redundancy notice issued to one of our representatives, Jon Bigger.  The letters have very little to say on the issue of victimisation of PCS reps or indeed Jon’s case.  However they tell us a great deal about how the campaign to get Jon reinstated as part of a wider issue of fairness at the Home Office is affecting senior management.

The fact that they are issuing letters that say absolutely nothing is indicative of a department that wants these issues to simply go away.  It is our role to ensure that the issues don’t go away until they are resolved and we call on the permanent secretary to meet with PCS urgently on the issues raised in the original letters.

On April 10 there will be a demonstration outside Home Office headquarters at 12:30 PM to coincide with Jon’s appeal hearing.

End Home Office Vicitmisation: Demo 10th April for #JonBigger

April 3, 2013 3 comments

The campaign to get branch rep Jon Bigger reinstated is entering an important phase.  On Wednesday, April 10 Jon will attend an appeal hearing at the Home Office headquarters and argue his case.  This is an opportunity for the Department to show that it is not in the business of union busting and victimising PCS representatives.

You can get involved with this process by attending a demonstration outside the building from 12:30 PM.  We want to show the Home Office that we care about the representatives we have and that we won’t be bullied by the Department.

Please come to the demo if you can and make some noise for Jon.