The head of the union for senior civil servants, Rishi Sunak, has urged ministers to stop allowing ministers to call officials “lazy, woke, inept, left-behind snowflakes” or brand them as “Machiavellian geniuses” who strive to remove the government.
In comments released ahead of the annual conference, Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, also accused the prime minister of treating civil servants like “second-class workers in the public sector” after the government offered them worse salaries than teachers and health workers.
Penman was to address the Whitehall conference after a year of strained relations between ministers and civil servants, following strikes, threatened job cuts, the sacking of the Treasury permanent secretary, and bullying of officials. by Dominic Raab and Gavin Williamson.
Penman, whose union represents the ranks of senior civil servants, will tell the conference that the government may be backing down on the threat of 91,000 job cuts, but “workloads are still on and resources are tight.” frozen as inflation drives real cuts to budgets”.
“Today, being told that you are a lazy, woke, bad, remaining activist snowflake, you are also now a machiavellian genius, capable of removing ministers and undermining the settled will of the government,” he said. , in an apparent reference to Raab’s claims of civil servant activists trying to oust him.
“I don’t know about you, conference, but I’ve had enough of this. At some point we have to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ Ministers must show that they value civil servants. They put a number on that, not us. They are the ones who believe that the cost of living crisis needs to be addressed for some public servants and not others, and they are the ones who are pushing the FDA to the polls for industrial action.
The FDA voted nationally for pay strike action for the first time in 40 years, meaning they could join civil servants from Prospect and PCS on the picket line. This is after the government offered most civilians a salary increase of just 4.5% and no cost-of-living lump sum, which is on the table for other sectors.
Penman also criticized Sunak for retaining Raab despite bullying complaints made against his deputy.
In his strongest comments on the subject, the general secretary said: “Faced with concerns from civil servants, what has he done? He has not only appointed Raab as the country’s deputy prime minister, but has- he also reappointed him to the very departments those concerns were raised in. What does that really tell you about how the prime minister values civil servants?
He will also address the “accusations laid on our doorstep by the bully Dominic Raab and his cronies”, after the former cabinet minister said he had been told he had been targeted by union officials.
“The FDA does not have a ‘hitlist’ of ministers. The FDA doesn’t go around encouraging complaints – but the FDA has, and will always, stand up to bullies on behalf of its members.
“As Adam Tolley KC explained in his report Mr Raab, maybe if you spent a little more time looking in the mirror, and a little less time looking for reds under the bed, things might be different you did.”
Many senior former civil servants also urged Sunak to stand up for the civil service after the Raab controversy. Bob Kerslake, the former head of the UK civil service, said last month that the prime minister must speak out against “the barrage of invective against the civil service” being unleashed by Raab or risk a toxic around Whitehall.