Labour leader’s office staff thrown into chaos and anxiety by centrist-remainer take-over – and denied union representation
The hard-working Labour staff of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘LOTO’ (leader of the opposition) team have been thrown into chaos and a state of trauma by the reorganisation imposed, in a seemingly headlong rush, by Lord Kerslake, a decades-long associate of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Kerslake arranged the removal from Corbyn’s office of Chief of Staff Karie Murphy and a number of Corbyn’s closest aides in what senior Labour insiders say was a move to isolate the Labour leader from supporters responsible for successfully resisting attempts to push Labour into a ‘full remain‘ position.
The pretext for the move was a supposed rift between Murphy and policy head Andrew Fisher – who has said he has no issues with her – and poor morale among LOTO staff.
But morale among staff has collapsed – only since last week’s manoeuvre – and is worsened by a planned ‘inquisition’ driven by the Labour right’s views of Corbyn’s office and from which staff have been hindered from having union representation.
Emails leaked to ITV’s Robert Peston have revealed that, as one senior Labour figure told the SKWAWKBOX, staff are facing interviews that could affect whether they have a job – and while the interviews are described as ‘optional’, any changes decided on will go ahead regardless so staff are likely to fear being even more vulnerable if they do not participate:
And while LOTO workers have since been told they can ‘invite’ a union rep to accompany them to their interview, some staff were already interviewed without this offer – and the new LOTO regime has declined to arrange interviews through the unions to ensure union reps (who have a full-time job with the party in addition to their union responsibilities) are available.
Instead, the union has simply been told that sharing reps’ availability in advance ‘may‘ help with the scheduling of interviews:
A union organiser’s response also leaked made clear the unhappiness the new regime’s approach has caused:
The SKWAWKBOX has learned that Lord Kerslake and new office manager Helene Reardon Bond OBE will be interviewing centrist front-benchers Sir Keir Starmer and John Healey on the running of the Labour leader’s office. Kerslake is a long-standing friend of Healey, as he is of John McDonnell.
A senior Labour insider angrily told the SKWAWKBOX:
Labour is a professional organisation with a human resources department and policies, we shouldn’t be subjecting staff to a centrist inquisition. They’re also denying some staff their right to have union representation. That’s wrong and must surely be illegal – and it’s a betrayal of the principles of the movement.
Out of thirty people, twenty-six are unhappy about what’s happened. Morale has collapsed, staff are confused about what the hell’s going on, they’re fearful and some are even saying that the stress is affecting their health.
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