Expert comment – ‘Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay’

Dr Mark Gilman, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management, Kent Business School, University of Kent comments on the following BBC news item:

‘Home Office staff vote to strike over jobs and pay’

Recently, the CIPD Quality Assurance Panel visited Kent Business School to progress the accreditation process for MSc HRM. A key part of the process, rightly so, was the panels insistence that future HRM experts join the labour market, not only with practical skills but, with  the ability to critically analyse any employment relations situation they are faced with.

Why is this important? We are in an age were few would question the role that employees should play in the creation of competitive advantage: as part of this engagement, voice, delegation and autonomy are argued to be essential features of improving the efficiency and overall performance of every organisation. Contrast this then with the recent news item which highlights a reoccurring problem with public sector employment relations. The government are accused of attacking pay and conditions and making more job cuts than necessary. Even having to increase overtime and agency staff to deal with the problems. The unions are accused of acting undemocratically and damaging public welfare in threatening strike action.

My experience is that there are thousands of employees like you and me who are committed to their jobs and concerned about why no one ever listens to them. Therefore, this is by no means the last that we will hear about strikes over jobs and pay in the public sector.

What would be interesting is whether we hear any critical and analytical commentary over why we are in this situation and what we should do about it apart from mindless cuts. I for one am looking forward to challenging my new future HRM experts with that one.

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