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Posted on 9 August 2010 at 23:42 GMT

Hastings CSA - Civil Service trade unionist sacked

PCS union branch secretary at CSA Hastings, Sam Buckley, has recently become the fifth branch officer to be sacked on trumped up charges since November 2007. Several more reps are under threat. The national PCS union regards this as deliberate union busting and is fully behind the demand for reinstatement, an end to bullying of staff and reps, and a DWP Select Committee enquiry into management at CSA Hastings.

CSA Hastings has become known as the 'Bermuda Triangle' of the Civil Service, owing to the way that those who stand up to management 'disappear'. So far the branch has lost a chairperson, two vice chairs, two branch secretaries and a treasurer (although the treasurer was reinstated in the teeth of stated opposition from Area Management and South East HR).

This is in stark contrast to how management treat BNP members - a local neo-Nazi has twice been given permission to stand for the BNP in council elections, despite Civil Service policy which obliges us all to promote diversity in the communities in which we live and work. Union reps handing out anti-BNP leaflets, by contrast, were threatened with disciplinary action and full-time union officials thrown off the site by security. Managers still insist the hugely disproportionate number of union officers sacked is a complete coincidence.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka told a packed CSA Hastings AGM that DWP management was the worst in the Civil Service, that CSA management was the worst in the DWP and that Hastings management was the worst in the whole of the CSA!

Of the officers we have lost so far, our branch chair was proved by a tribunal to have been unfairly dismissed - yet he was still refused his job back. Our treasurer was sacked for asking if he was being discriminated against - he had to be reinstated and paid an out-of-court settlement after pressure from the national union got the case heard outside the area and it was found that the managers dismissing him had failed to follow procedure, show natural justice and demonstrate impartiality. An attempt to sack the current chair had to be dropped after it was proved that someone had altered the minutes of a meeting in an apparent attempt to make him look worse.

A demonstration has been called, backed by national, local and regional PCS and Hastings and District Trades Council among others, which will assemble at 1pm at Hastings Pier on Saturday 18 September before moving off along the seafront at 1.30pm and marching to the town centre where a rally with speakers will be held.

Area management are eager to consolidate their 'victory'. Their first move has been to ban the PCS branch from issuing any leaflets to union members on the subject, including outside the building and in their own time. National PCS pointed out to them that this is both unreasonable and unlawful, yet was ignored. As a result of this, a mass leafletting session was held on Friday 30 July at Ashdown House. Despite threats to call the police made by an area manager (who appeared to think he could issue orders to people who don't work for him and weren't on CSA property), it was a huge success. However the climate of fear was shown by the numbers of staff who were eager to sign the petition, but on condition that management were never told they had signed. Others made a point of ostentatiously shaking Sam's hand in the full view of senior managers.

A Hastings PCS member

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