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JOBCENTRE PLUS ET - DAY 1
by Barrabas 24/02/03

LINK TO DAY 2

LINK TO RESULT PAGE

LINK TO E.A.T APPEAL OUTCOME

To a packed audience comprising of local and national hacks and interested PCS reps the much-awaited DWP Trial Of The Tie kicked off in the Manchester Employment Tribunal today.

Matthew Thompson himself was first up and gave a good account of himself, however under cross examination he did come unstuck once or twice, admitting on one occasion that wearing a tie every day was no great burden. PCS had 6 supporting witnesses lined up, an impressive number you may think. That was until it all the excuses flowed in. Sickness, holidays, domestic crisis whittled them down to 2. Matters were not helped when management checked their offices and later reported that two of PCS’s witnesses were happily sat in work.

Sensing victory, DWP management wheeled out their big guns and, taking a leaf out of PCS’s book, grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.

First up was Terry Morgan NW regional Director whose evidence comprised of an hour of management speak that nobody understood. Unfortunately ‘our Terry’ didn’t take the hint when asked by the chairman 5 times to ‘slow down and repeat your answer, as I didn’t get it the first time’ Terry was having none of it, out came the management spiel at full speed ‘JC+ was facilitating change‘ ‘a new organisation with a new future’, ‘bringing two organisations together with a common purpose’ ‘leading the way with our business partners and the customers we serve’ and so on and so on and so on. He eventually shot himself in the foot by saying that ‘having a dress code was secondary to the business, primarily it was to do with combining ES and BA into one’

Next up came Thompsons HEO and EO (names kept secret to protect the innocent) who endeavoured to be as helpful an informative as possible. Unfortunately for the DWP they got their wires crossed and bent over backwards helping PCS’s brief and not their own. In fact the EO agreed with everything PCS’s brief said, whilst the only disagreement came from the HEO who when asked about dress codes in banks said ‘How do I know, I haven’t been in a bank for the last 18 months’

The proceedings were effectively draw to a close when the Tribunal chairman pointed out that submissions could be made this afternoon with a decision announced tomorrow morning. To which the DWP brief pointed out that he hadn’t brought any of his case law with him, so could he have a delay till the morning?

Meanwhile the hacks knowing they wouldn’t get a story today had already embarked on mass to the nearest watering hole to discuss the day’s proceedings. Diligent that he was, one of our agents did speak to someone from Radio 4 who attended the afternoon session: they reported ‘Mr Thompson himself sported a blue number with his barrister in a matching grey suit and black blouse. Dave Burke wore a just back from the country look, of tweed jacket with matching trousers. DWP management showed a consistent approach with blue suits being the norm. However one HEO was seen wearing a pinstripe, which was described by someone in the audience as ‘oh so 90’s’

So no decision today, with it all to play for in tomorrow's submissions.

Informed opinion suggests that since the demise of Leigh Lewis to the Home Orifice, the new DWP management have yet to decide what to do. Risk a further 12 ET’s knowing that Dave Burke can’t get funding for any more cases, or negotiate with him and produce a watered down version of the dress code…

Links:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-2-589301,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/story/0,11812,901670,00.html

http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,901105,00.html