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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.