UK officials offered one-off payment after strikes; Zimbabwe bans civil servants from political candidacy: management & workforce news in brief

By on 08/06/2023 | Updated on 08/06/2023
GBP notes

UK civil servants offered one-off payment to prevent strike action

UK civil servants could receive a one-off payment of £1,500 (US$1,868) this year as part of an effort by government to prevent further industrial action.

Pressure from unions led to the government’s offer, which it hopes will cool tensions after a series of strikes by civil servants in various departments earlier this year. The lump sum would only be paid to those below senior grades.

In addition to the pay offer, ministers also committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies, according to union officials. Jeremy Quin, minister for the Cabinet Office, said that the offer recognised the financial pressures civil servants face in the cost of living crisis.

“We are determined that civil servants are rewarded fairly for the vital work they do… in delivering the government’s agenda and providing services to the general public,” Quin said.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of the 155,000 member-strong Prospect union, said the offer was welcome and that “industrial action taken by union members [had] been critical in getting to this point”. 

“We will now consult our public service representatives on the substance of the offer and formally respond in due course,” he said.

Read more: US government to ban use of salary history in federal job offers

Zimbabwean civil servants banned from political candidacy

The Zimbabwean government has banned civil servants from standing as candidates for any political party following a memo sent by the Public Service Commission last month.

The memo explicitly set out “procedure[s] to be followed by members of the public service who intend to stand as candidates for parliamentary and local government elections”.

The commission, which regulates the conduct of civil servants, outlined strict rules for any official wishing to apply for party selection. These included compulsory resignation before application.

In practice, civil servants seeking candidacy for an election would be expected to submit their intentions “in writing… notifying the commission” after which they would be deemed to have “resigned from the public service with effect from the date that the authority is granted for those seeking election to a local authority”, the memo said.

This rule would apply to civil servants “wanting to be selected by political parties and the Nomination Court” ahead of general elections on 23 August, though civil servants would be free to reapply within 30 days “as long as they are not contesting the outcome”.

“If they are, they have to wait until the process is finalised to come back,” the commission stipulated.

In addition, it said that no member of the civil service may “in the exercise of their functions… act in a partisan manner… further the interests of any political party or cause… prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or… violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person”.

Australia’s health agencies shown to engage more young people with funny social media posts

A study of communication strategies used by Australia’s health authorities found that funny social media posts were more likely to positively influence young people.

By making their social media posts more playful during the month of September 2021 – using memes and colloquial language familiar to internet culture – state and territory health authorities had much greater success engaging young people on important information to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the study by the University of Sydney also found that only 14.7% of authorities’ posts explicitly targeted young people during this period.

One post that proved particularly engaging came from the Tasmanian Department of Health, which featured a Labrador showing how to wear a mask.

Image of a COVID mask instruction post by the Tasmanian Health Service

However, Melody Taba, senior research officer at the the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health and the paper’s lead author, warned that using humour to convey serious health messages could work against health authorities, and that this depended on how posts were shared.

She added that whether humour should be incorporated into health agencies’ communications more often, or if this would “[detract] from [their] health messages” presented an area for further investigation.

She stressed that young people remained “a key demographic”, singling out Instagram and TikTok as platforms on which health authorities should maintain a presence.

Read more: Australia appoints new public service commissioner

Trudeau appoints new senior rank officials to Canada’s public service

The prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau announced on 31 May a series of appointments to the senior ranks of the country’s public service.

The appointments included Cynthia Termorshuizen, who is currently associate deputy minister of foreign affairs and will become personal representative of the prime minister for the G7 Summit. The other appointments are as follows:

Daniel Rogers, will take on the role of deputy national security and intelligence advisor to the prime minister, while retaining his current role as deputy secretary to the cabinet.

Stephen de Boer, currently assistant deputy minister of the International Affairs Branch and Environment and Climate Change Canada, will start in his new role as foreign and defence policy advisor to the prime minister on 12 June.

Tushara Williams, currently associate assistant deputy minister at the Department of Finance Canada, will become deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs on 19 June.

Eric Costen, currently senior assistant deputy minister, Industry Sector, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, will be associate deputy minister of health as of 26 June.

Natasha Kim, currently assistant deputy minister, Strategic Policy Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has been appointed associate deputy minister of national defence, effective June 12.

Alex Benay, currently vice-chair of the National Arts Centre and senior partner of Levio Business and Technology, will become associate deputy minister of public services and procurement, on 26 June.

Michael Sabia, formerly deputy minister of finance, stepped down from his role on 2 June. Nick Leswick, currently associate deputy minister of finance, will take on the responsibilities of deputy minister on an interim basis, until a replacement is appointed.

Read more: More money for Canada’s public service workers won’t cure an unhappy workplace

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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