Yesterday, Samantha [the Grade 3] came over to ask me about my holiday in Cornwall (we went to Scotland). She then said she'd like to have a short meeting with me in the afternoon. She's never asked about my holidays before, or anything to do with my life come to that, so I thought oh-oh.
She started by telling me that my case [Civil Service Code case against Barbara and John] was going to be investigated soon (case officer appointed by Samantha); that it should be finished within 40 working days and if it isn't her boss has to look into it (which of course is the real reason for keeping to time, not that I get a fair investigation).
She then said she had a 'proposition' for me. This involved her speaking solidly for 8-9 minutes at the end of which it was clear that I was expected to just say yes. In short, it's that I should move to another job in another team for 40 days, while the case is going on. Her 'reasoning' was:
1) She wants to be fair to me and it can't be good for me to be working to a policy I don't agree with.
2) She also needs to be fair to Barbara and Phil, since I've expressed my disagreement with them.
3) It will help me expand my whatevers (I forget the exact word but it amounts to bollocks, possibly in both senses of the word), towards furthering my career.
4) I'm very capable (apparently) and this new job is in a priority area.
On 1) I said I don't disagree with the policy; just the way it's being managed, the policy being surely that we all want to make the regulations safe. Also, there is a distinction, I said, between the work going forward and the case which is based on the past. Before the case is decided, it doesn't seem fair that I should be the one to have to leave my job.
On 2), the same logic says you might as well move Barbara and Phil to different jobs.
On 3), I said this is not particularly relevant since I'm already past retirement age and the only reason I'm staying on is to see these regulations put right.
As for 4), it hardly seems fair to expect a new line manager to have to train me just for 40 days work. [My gut feeling that she was lying about it being just for this period was confirmed later when she made similar 'propositions' to me. In short she is a bully of the most cowardly sort. Instead of simply telling you that you will do what she wants, she tries to pretend that you made the choice. I now know damn well that the first day I'd have turned up in the new job the line manager would have had no idea at all it was just for 40 days - either that or he/she would have played along with Samantha's lie.]
At this point, I recalled that Barbara and Phil were both on leave this week, i.e. she probably promised them a Terry-free unit upon their return.
She also specifically mentioned FW/6 [the British Standards Institute's working group on furniture flammability, on which I represented BIS] and asked me what I would do there regarding BIS's proposal. My instinct pinged at this, suspecting a trap.
[Which it was. What had happened was that Phil completely perverted the official government response to the 2014 consultation. Apart from rejecting my honest assessment of the responses, telling the Minister that I had a CS Code case on the go when it was supposed to be kept confidential (thereby forcing her to accept his response version), censoring the papers sent out to other Departments, the greatest con he pulled was stating at the end of it that BIS would work with British Standards to improve the new match test, with a view to implementing it in April 2016. Hence, everything depended on this 'work' with BS going ahead. But I'd been pointing out to the team that BS would struggle in this since there actually was no more work that needed doing. The problem being that I was the BIS person on FW/6 - which of course may well have been part of Samantha's plans to move me on, so that a more pliable person could be moved in. So, what Samantha was no doubt hoping with this question was that I would answer by saying that I would not toe the policy line, giving her the perfect excuse for moving me on.]
I told her that I only had two realistic choices: either say nothing or put across the BIS line (even though I knew it to be false). Extraordinarily - or perhaps not - she agreed. So much for the truth.
Then I showed her that I'd pushed her into a little trap of my own. I told her that Barbara actually told British Standards' management that the work we were asking them to do didn't need doing; but it was what the Minister thought was needed, therefore it had to be done (unless BS were stupid, I don't suppose they had much trouble in working out why the Minister might think that). Barbara, I said, quoting pretty much exactly, also told BS that "The minister has this strange idea that you can test a test. We know that isn't true of course, but we have to try to please her." (Ditto for BS working out why the Minister would think such a thing.) Finally, the clincher: I said that Barbara had asked me to confirm that at the FW/6 meeting, Steve and I would vote down BIS's proposition to do more work! (Amazing, but true. I suspect this was because she only had to cover-off the delay until April 2016; therefore, just the fact of BS being involved was enough.]
Much note-scribbling went on as I spoke, that and a furrowed brown of "why didn't they tell me this"itis.
When she'd finished I said, "So, do I act enthusiastically at FW/6 about the work we want them to do or just repeat what Barbara told their management?" While her brow was convoluting further at this I went on to suggest that the team needed to work out its objectives and vision since we didn't have these things - something a Grade fucking 3 should of course be able to spot from a million miles away but which she'd completely missed in her gymnastic efforts to get rid of the one person in the team who was more concerned about public safety than protecting his career.
I told her I'd think about it but I already knew what my answer would be.