Saturday, 4 February 2017

Save the Industrial Injuries Unit in Barrow!

Below is the text of a branch bulletin distributed by DWP Cumbria Branch to members at the DWP Industrial Injuries Unit at Phoenix House, Barrow yesterday.

It's the start of a local community campaign to save a service that gives financial security to the victims of industrial injuries and disease and their families.

Much of the community in Barrow have and continue to call upon the benefits calculated and processed by the specialist unit in Phoenix House. Many of the claimants are ex-Yard workers who have fallen victims to often terminal asbestos related conditions as a result of their work.

The closure will have an impact wider than the community in Barrow. Nationally, hundreds of Thousands of ex Miners, Construction and Shipyard Workers are affected by the diseases the team at Barrow specialise in awarding claims for.

The closure of this office and the disbandment of the workers who have a combined experience of over 1000 years of experience of dealing with these cases will have a untold impact on the time it takes to award a claim to people with terminal illnesses.

This is a working-class issue and PCS DWP North-West ask for cross-union support in opposition to this closure.

Watch-this-space and support the campaign...

"We wanted to give everyone a quick update on the progress made so far in our
We have requested a meeting with John Woodcock to offer our opinion from a TU
perspective and request further support in the campaign 
We have approached the Trades Council and they have agreed to affiliate our
branch and have offered to support our campaign in any way they can. 
We are seeking a public meeting in town in which we will request attendance of our
MP, National TU representation and Local Council representation. 
We are seeking support from organisations with an interest in keeping our
experience and our workforce in place such as Asbestos Support Groups,
Trade Unions who represent members who have used our service or may have
to in the future including NUM, GMB and the TUC. 
We are starting an online petition for which we hope to attract some high profile
signatures and obviously as many more signatures as possible. 
We have the support of Regional and National TU and hope to differentiate our
campaign from the on going national campaign against office closures due to
the unique nature of the work we do and the potential to lose many years of
specialist experience. 
We appreciate that it a very worrying time but we are working hard to present the
best and fullest case possible to keep jobs in Barrow.
We are very grateful to those who have recently become union members and
recognise the best way to win this campaign is by having 100% support from a
fully unionised workforce. 
Please feel free to contact us anytime if you wish to support the campaign or suggest
ideas. This campaign will have a great chance of success if we stick together and
work as one. 
Kris and Jill"

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Reject the Attack on the CSCS: Strengthen the union!

Find a link below to our Regional recruitment bulletin outlining the importance of union membership and participation in the face of such a considerable attack on the terms and conditions of all civil servants.

Link here.

Friday, 18 March 2016

North-West Regional Committee concerns with pay and contract negotiations

At our last regional committee this Tuesday 15/03/16 we agreed to raise the following concerns with the union nationally regarding the progress of negotiations around the 'Employee Deal' and the joint statement released by the employer and the union.

The regional committee has the following concerns which we would like fed in to any discussions at the Group Executive. These come from the discussion at the regional committee and correspondence we have received from branches.

1.    Some members are concerned about the joint statements issued with the employer which some consider to be inappropriate in any circumstances and some consider to be inappropriate in style and content.

2.    The lack of information is causing a great deal of worry for members and the fact the employer at all levels is freely discussing the likely outcome of the talks is compounding these concerns.

3.    We do not understand why such strict confidentiality clauses have been imposed on and accepted by the union when the employer is breaching this arrangement with no apparent come back.

4.    There does no appear to have been any equality impact assessment on proposed contractual changes.

5.    We do not understand why pay and contractual terms have been combined in the same talks, seemingly without any issues of concern to the union being discussed as well, for example attendance management and other terms and conditions issues.

6.    Some members consider that the principle of a Monday to Friday week should not be conceded whatever the financial offer.  Some members are unable to work different hours and weekends due to caring and other commitments and some have  organised their lives around the present working hours and stayed in their jobs because of this. These members include some very long standing, loyal union members.  Some reps also consider that these points should not be conceded at a time when the BMA have a high profile campaign which includes the issue of weekend working and imposed contractual changes for junior doctors.

Members concerned about any aspects of the statement or union bulletins should direct their queries in the first instance to their local rep.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Support the Universal Credit Service Centre Strike!

On Monday next week PCS members at Bolton and Glasgow Universal Credit Service Centre's are walking-out for 48 hours with further action planned.

Horrendous Conditions

Staff are taking action to oppose managements imposition of new 'Ways of Working' proposals which severely restricts access to flexi-time and schedules strict start and finish times. This in addition to all the other pressures staff working on Universal Credit face on a day-to-day basis including excessive demand to meet targets, infamously poor IT systems, poor levels of training, high-levels of stress and chronic under-staffing and use of temporary staff for permanent work has resulted in completely unacceptable working conditions for staff.

The union have been raising these concerns with the employer for over six months with no commitment from management to address them. Indeed they have implemented all proposals without any significant changes being made.

Our Demands

The demands of the strike are as follows:
  1. Withdrawal of the Ways of Working proposals 
  2. Full access to flexi-time in UC
  3. Existing working patterns to be honoured 
  4. Increased staffing levels, including permanent posts for all temporary staff 
  5. Improved learning and development for UC staff 
  6. An end to the oppressive management culture in UC 
  7. Improved IT and training to enable members in UC to have the tools to do the job 
  8. Access to annual leave when members need to take it 
  9. The introduction of a standard operating approach for UC service centres that encapsulates these demands
The Ballot

The ballot, which ran until the 6th of July, would have beaten the proposed anti-union legislation announced by the government yesterday.

PCS represents 80% of staff in across both sites. On a turnout of 56%, 84% voted for strike action and 90% for action short of a strike, beating both the proposed 50% turnout and the 40% in-favour quota.

The 2-day strike on Monday and Tuesday will be followed up by a 4-week overtime ban with the threat of further strike action  if no substantial movement is seen from the other side.

Solidarity Action

Labour movement activists are encouraged to show solidarity with these members in at least one of three ways

  1. Pass a motion of solidarity with the branches in your union branch or Trades Council. Messages can be sent to Pete Entwistle, Bolton & Bury PCS Branch Secretary at
  2. Get your union branch or donate money yourself to the Bolton strike-fund.
    Name: Hardship Account, S/C: 08-60-01, A/C: 20309163
  3. Come and join us on the picket-line on Monday at Bolton Service Centre. Bring banners, tea, food etc. We're meeting at 7pm sharp at:
    Bolton Benefit Centre
    Elizabeth House
    21 Back Spring Gardens
    Bolton, BL1 1SJ
    We will be meeting at the main-door which is directly opposite the Octagon Theatre car-park.
Of course we also show solidarity with our brothers and sisters on strike in the Glasgow office and as soon as we receive information about their activity we will publish here.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

March Against Austerity!

On Saturday 20th June a National Demonstration will be taking place in London demanding amongst other things:
  • An end to cuts and Austerity
  • Reversal of Privatisation
  • A well-funded National Heath Service
  • Affordable homes for all.
Our region encourages all members to march to illustrate the level of support among working-class people for policies that serve our interests as opposed to the interests of the rich and powerful represented by this government.

The union in the North-West is putting on free coach travel to and from the demonstration on the day with pick-up points in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. 

Please contact your branch secretary as listed on this site or for more information or to book transport.

For more information on the demo go to the facebook page.

Support the North West Contact Centre Campaign!

Support Our Campaign 

PCS will call upon management to seriously consider these issues, in the hope CCS management begin to realise staff are their key assets, not their key problem.

PCS Reps from the North West Contact Centres met recently with PCS NW Committee members to discuss the current continuing issues impacting members in our Contact Centres.

The meeting established patterns and trends within Contact Centres in the North West. The perception of PCS is that the majority of these issues emanate from national decisions by the Contact Centre Senior Management Team and Network Management.

It is the intention of the Regional Committee to campaign around the following demands. Your support is vital if we are to stop the continuing erosion of working conditions in Contact Centres:
  1. End to micro-management; allow line managers to manage 
  2. Fair performance management 
  3. Annual leave levels to be 25% with in-work leave/network days allowed 
  4. Full access to flexible working 
  5. Fair and transparent application of DWP policies (MA, people performance, SPL/sick leave) 
  6. Permanent jobs for FTAs 
  7. Job security for AA grade staff.
Reps spoke of members’ anger at recent decisions relating to everything from Attendance Management, and Performance Management, to Annual leave issues and the withdrawal of team meetings, 1-2-1s and CSL courses, amongst other things.

The overarching theme and belief is that there is currently a lack of clear governance and transparency in respect of the decisions made by senior management. The requirement of local managers to enforce these decisions has damaged employee relations at local levels.

PCS noted with regret the regressive approach of CCS management, and the lack of clarity and transparency of decisions made by the current regime. PCS noted the progress made following the CCS-PCS dispute settlement, in which employee relations normalised and real progressive changes made, in what CCS delivers and how. The emerging belief amongst all reps was that senior managers have, or are in the process of, returning to the tried and failed methods of CCD.

As a result, PCS reps recognised key areas which members feel strongly about, and which should form the basis for talks with management, and GEC members.

Annual Leave 

 Reps noted recent caps on annual leave, and the forecasted reduction of leave. In some circumstances this is projected as low as 12%-for some service lines. Reps also felt that members in CCS were wilfully being declined access, or even consideration of utilising flexi-time, in the manner intended. This is particular acute in respect of ‘early finishes’ or in-day leave. Reps agreed a real substantive agreement was necessary, to end confusion and the lack of transparency with this provision. 

Performance Management 

PCS noted the return of micro management of individuals, albeit, ironically alongside the withdrawal of 1-2-1s.

PCS discussed the sub-prime and discriminatory nature of CCS’ Performance framework. Even following substantive changes to this framework, members are left with a reductionist approach to performance-which still continues to discriminate against those who maybe part time staff, disabled, carers. This list is not exhaustive.

Additionally, CCS has begun to incorporate strict targets into Key Work Objectives. PCS doubt these would satisfy DWP’s SMART criteria. It remains to be seen how hard Part Time staff or disabled people will have to work to reach their CRCT target, if they can reach it at all

Working Pattern requests 

Members have been subjected to arbitrary decision making when requesting a change in working pattern, or consideration of partial retirement.

No substantive investigation takes place following a request. No Management Information is presented-to support the belief the PCA cannot support it. No attempts by management are made to negotiate, with a view to an acceptable settlement for both DWP and the individual.

The Decline of Governance 

Examples are numerous, but PCS noted the withdrawal of team meetings and 1-2-1s, the cancelling of CSL courses, the withdrawal of TDA-exposing team leaders to more work and pressure, and limiting the support for staff.

In some cases these reactions have proven unnecessary, with some meetings reinstated later in the same week-in a confused and hurried manner.

More widely, PCS are not generally consulted when appropriate, at the relevant level. Decision making is often poor and seldom properly explained or communicated to staff.

Managers reference the position of the PCA, without providing figures, or context. In some circumstances staff are asked to inform their manager should they wish to invoke their contractual right to a one hour lunch. Other members are tarred with ‘not working their shift’ when they do so. 

Members and reps continue to report problems with the management of Attendance Management, Special Leave requests and Flexi Credits for appointments.

The NW Committee and reps resolved that PCS must attempt-again-to remedy these issues for members. PCS note the operational pressure on DWP; however these problems are not the making of PCS members, and management have had over six years now to conclude this wasn’t working.

End of Year Appraisals

Your union can represent you in these cases too.

The guidance is long and involved so it is best to talk to your rep about your situation.

You should always raise a grievance if your box marking comes as a surprise. If the marking has changed since your mid-year review you should have been made aware that things were likely to change.

Management are raising the stakes with appraisal saying that they don’t expect people to get a “Must Improve” two years running. We are concerned that there will be more use of capability procedures to try and get rid of those of us getting Must Improve markings. Make sure you raise a grievance against these markings with PCS help.

In many cases there is a good chance you will win.

The PCS regional committee is concerned that the whole appraisal process is flawed and discriminatory. For example we learnt last year in GMCC District that full timers, non-disabled people, those from the majority ethnic group and women who are in a majority in the workforce, were all more likely to get an Exceeded box marking and with the exception of non-disabled staff, were less likely to get a Must Improve. The higher the grade, the more likely staff were, to get an Exceeded and the less likely they were to get a Must Improve.

Exceeded markings were much more common for those aged 16-24 and much less common for those over 60 and staff under 30 and over 60 were more likely to get must improves. Similar patterns are to be found in other parts of the Department.

If we are to change the system we must all challenge it by raising grievances about anything that appears to be unfair.