Around 100,000 civil servants are on strike in a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.
Tory MP Jake Berry has mocked civil servants on the picket line in Westminster in the party’s latest attack on post-pandemic working from home.
Around 100,000 civil servants refused to work across 124 government departments and other organisations, including Border Force, the Department for Transport, the Department for Education and the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union is calling for a 10% pay rise, “pensions justice, job security and and no cuts to redundancy terms”.
Picket lines were seen outside a number of Whitehall departments, which the former Conservative Party chairman and minister apparently seized on.
“I haven’t seen this many civil servants in Westminster since the start of the pandemic,” Berry tweeted.
“Just a shame they’ve only come in to stand on a picket line. Back to #workingfromhome tomorrow.”
I haven't seen this many civil servants in Westminster since the start of the pandemic.
Just a shame they've only come in to stand on a picket line.
Back to #workingfromhome tomorrow. #strikespic.twitter.com/d2u0EORejQ
— Jake Berry MP (@JakeBerry) February 1, 2023
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said Berry was making a “really childish point”.
He told LBC: “It wasn’t so long ago the Rishi Sunak, who was then chancellor, lauded the civil service for delivering the furlough scheme from the kitchen, their dining rooms, in their living rooms.
“What he recognised there, at a stroke, was in an emergency situation we showed we could deliver frontline services in a different way.
'Jake Berry is making a really childish point' to mock civil servants for striking when some still work from home, says @pcs_union chief Mark Serwotka.@TomSwarbrick1 | #WalkoutWednesdaypic.twitter.com/ndZLHsEE9k
— LBC (@LBC) February 1, 2023
“I think now Jake Berry is making a really childish point. What the civil service has really done here is follow the private sector, because we know that there are many big private corporations that went much further in terms of working from home.
“And it isn’t the case that everybody sits a home for five days in their pyjamas, actually. There are many people working from home, who are working harder than ever before under quite stressful conditions.”
It’s the latest Tory attack on civil servants and what many of them think is a negative working from home culture.
Jacob Rees-Mogg was last month slammed for an “appalling” comment about striking civil servants.
The former cabinet minister shared a story by the Daily Mail about a planned walk out by civil servants, commenting: “If they are not in the office will anyone notice?”
When he was “government efficiency minister”, Rees-Mogg led efforts to crackdown on working from home among Whitehall staff.
He was labelled a “nasty patronising man” after leaving notes on the desks of civil servants who were not in the office.