Dyson faced an employee uprising after disregarding government advice and trying to force people back to to the office who have been happily working from home.
As it stands, current lockdown rules clearly stipulate that if you can continue to work from home, keep on keeping on. Dyson decided to ignore that in favour of herding everyone back onto its UK campus for no real reason whatsoever. Can't have people doing a perfectly good job in the safety of their own home, I guess. As it turns out, this pissed off everyone, because it's bloody stupid.
Dyson group chief executive, Roland Krueger, sent an email summoning everyone back to the office last week on Friday, with the expected return set for Monday. That's just one weekend to reorganise everything in their lives to accommodate a decision that flies in the face of government instructions. Dyson magnanimously told them that they'd be split into two teams that would rotate between working from home and in-office, demonstrating that these jobs can, in fact, be done from home, as they have been for the duration of the pandemic.
This did not go down well, and Krueger reversed the absolutely inane decision the next day, saying that Dyson had "reviewed the practicalities" of contributing to a second wave of infections for no reason whatsoever, concluding that:
"Those who can work as effectively from home should continue to work from home."
Like they were already doing. How generous. A member of staff talking to The Guardian said:
"Everyone was very unhappy. It was pretty rough. As a company we were pretty proud of James [Dyson] a few weeks ago , trying to make a difference with the CoVent [medical ventilator] project.
"But then in a few weeks it’s all turned around. If they’d had their way, there would have been 2,500 people in the office and I’d estimate 60% of those could work from home with a low impact.”
Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite trade union, said:
"This is an important example of how many employers will interpret weak, unclear and confusing messages about a safe return to work from government. In the case of Dyson workers who should still be working from home, they have been able to collectively push back against their employer.
"However, many workers are not as confident or organised and in the same position will be either economically forced back into work, without adequate measures being put in place, or pressured to return under the fear of losing their jobs.
"Unite will back to the hilt any of its members who find themselves in this position and would encourage all workers to stand together, act in solidarity like those at Dyson and stay safe in these difficult times to help us all save lives.”
The government guidelines on returning to work aren't as unclear as Turner suggests - it was right there in the Prime Minister's announcement - but not keeping yourself informed, and neglecting to find out your rights is what allows businesses to attempt to play silly buggers like this. Dyson commented on the situation in a statement which didn't actually address it at all, and simply waffled on about how it's following government guidelines, when it clearly wasn't planning on doing so at all. It rounded it off by saying:
"We have maintained full salaries and benefits, not furloughed any staff and not accepted any Covid-19 financial assistance but, like many companies, are facing a grave economic future."
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