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ADC 2021: Stronger than ever

Our first ever virtual ADC saw more members than ever before taking part in ADC business and events, from the panel discussion on the future world of work, to fringe events on maternity rights and supporting carers, to our wide array of learning sessions.

Our first ever virtual ADC saw more members than ever before taking part in ADC business and events, from the panel discussion on the future world of work, to fringe events on maternity rights and supporting carers, to our wide array of learning sessions.

Moving the Annual Report, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman paid tribute to the incredible efforts of all public servants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting that, outside of times of conflict, “this country and its citizens have never had to rely on public services, and therefore public servants, as they have over the last 15 months”.

“It was right that citizens stood outside and applauded our NHS workers, many of whom were literally putting their lives on the line,” he added. “As is the case with all public services, for every one individual on the frontline, there are dozens behind them without whom they could not do their job and all of whom deserve the appreciation of the public and ministers.”

Despite the vital role the civil service played in response to the pandemic, Penman explained that during 2020 we "witnessed an onslaught against the professionalism, integrity and impartiality of the civil service and its leadership, in a way that made the attacks over Brexit look amateurish".

Appealing directly to the Prime Minister, Penman said: “Whatever your ambition, to level up, save the union, take back control or build back better, it is your civil servants who you will rely on to deliver it. As prime minister you need to lead them, inspire them and support them. It’s time to heal the wounds, and a good place to start would be ensuring that ministers will be held to account for the same standards of conduct, as their civil servants.”

The FDA General Secretary added that it is “frankly disgraceful” that the FDA as has had to go to court to ensure that there is not “one rule for ministers and one for civil servants when it comes to bullying in the workplace”.

However, in the face of these challenges Penman put forward a positive story of the FDA, which has seen record membership growth over the last year: “2020 has been a year of challenge like no other. Yet, in this most extraordinary of years – for the country, the government, the civil service and the union – it has also been the most successful in our history. We are stronger than ever before, we have more members than ever before and our profile and reputation, our stock so to speak, has never been higher.”

As part of ADC, the FDA General Secretary was also interviewed by the Guardian’s Rajeev Syal, which can be watched here:

The future world of work

The FDA’s Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby chaired a panel discussion with Peter Cheese, the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD); Alice Hurrell, HR Director at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; and Kyle de Bruin, Development Director at Leesmans.

To start the session, the FDA’s lead on the future of work, Victoria Jones, shared the results of our recent future world of work survey, which prompted nearly 1500 responses from FDA members. The data from our survey showed clearly that our members want flexible working to continue beyond the pandemic, with 66% saying they would turn down a promotion if the role didn’t allow flexible or remote working. Nevertheless, it is also clear that flexible working poses challenges, including a sense of isolation and difficulty switching off, and these are issues the FDA will be considering as we progress our work in this area.

Both Peter Cheese and Alice Hurrell spoke of the great opportunities presented by flexible working, around inclusion and finding a better work-life balance, while Kyle de Bruin pointed out that for many people, productivity had soared over the last year, when technology “had really held its own”.

You can watch the full session here:

Maternity rights at work

The FDA is proud to be affiliated to Maternity Action and as part of this year's ADC, Senior Policy Officer Kate Moran joined FDA Equality Officer Victoria Jones to discuss maternity rights and the charity's commitment to work with trade unions on their campaigning objectives.

You can watch the full session here:

Supporting carers work

On Wednesday afternoon, FDA Equality Officer Victoria Jones and workplace rep Santosh Bhabra hosted a session discussing how best to support carers at work. Santosh spoke movingly about her own experience of the first time she asked for help, when she needed support to balance work and her caring responsibilities, explaining that all the onus had been on her to come up with solutions. Her own experience made her realise that if she was facing such difficulty, “there must be something that needs to change.”

Santosh was the recipient of our 2020 FDA Impact Award but, because of the pandemic, she had never been able to accept the award in person. The session therefore created the opportunity for FDA General Secretary Dave Penman to thank Santosh for all efforts. Santosh said, “I’ve never felt alone in the FDA, I’ve always felt supported.”

You can read more about the FDA’s work to support carers here.

17th Jun 2021
New Statesman Political Editor Stephen Bush and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government (IfG) Dr Catherine Haddon spoke about the relationship between civil servants and ministers at a recent FDA event run exclusively for Fast Stream members.
15th Jun 2021
FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has welcomed the “tone of collaboration” in the Declaration on Government Reform, published today, but warned that the “devil may very well be in the detail”.
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