Friday, 12 December 2014

Direct Debit – Now it’s serious

After months of prevaricating the DWP has informed PCS that it will be withdrawing the check off facility where our union subs are deducted from our pay.

This will be done by next March. Therefore, if you want to continue be represented by PCS you must sign up to DD by 15th February.

It’s easy to do, just follow this link, enter your membership or national insurance number and your bank account details and it’s done. You can get your NINO from your payslip, your membership number from your rep and most banks put your sort code and account number on your cashpoint card. Alternatively, the details of the account you are paid to is on RM.

We know that a small number of members will have difficulty with this process. It is essential that you let your rep know if this applies to you. If you don’t talk to us, your membership will end when check off is withdrawn. It is our policy not to represent people who are not members at the time an issue arises. Don’t let this happen to you.

Finally, please be patient with your reps. All local reps have been instructed to repeatedly ask members to sign up to DD. We get regular reports of how each office is doing and we hold each other to account if an office is low down the list of percentage conversions to DD. Help your rep out by getting your own DD sorted.

Boycott NW Benefits Group Dragons Den

PCS is opposed to bonus payments. The union believes that all money for pay should be distributed amongst all staff. Nevertheless, a team bonus scheme has been operating in NW Benefits Group for around 2 years and PCS was consulted about how the money should be distributed.

Under this scheme team members were given bonuses for making suggestions which improved performance. PCS took the view that, until we can get rid of bonus payments altogether, that it was to be welcomed that the criteria for receiving the bonus were objective, transparent and measurable. It was a welcome move away from how the scheme was abused in the past, where managers used the payments to reward favourites.

Preston BC managements 'White Knight, Good Fairy'
Scheme. Yes. It really was called that.
However, following recent management changes in NW Benefits Group we seem to have gone back in time, in more ways than one. Preston Benefit Centre was awarded a bonus for their innovative ‘White Knight, Good Fairy’ scheme (yes, it was really called that!). Which, aside from anything else there are equality issues around the language and the infantalisation of staff. When TU asked for more information about this performance improvement initiative we were informed that it was about staff holding hands and being nice to each other (for one week only).

So it looks like we have gone back to rewarding favourites for nonsensical reasons.

Penrith and Clitheroe Jobcentres Saved

Following a campaign by PCS Cumbria and PCS East Lancashire branches, it has been announced that the proposal to close Penrith and Clitheroe Jobcentres have been shelved. The branches set about obtaining as much information as possible and compiled detailed reports arguing the case for the offices to remain open. Assistance was given by local Trades Union Councils, a social media campaign was launched, local MPs and the local press were involved and paper and on line petitions were used.

Kris Houghton, the secretary of Cumbria branch said “I would like to say thank you to members in Penrith for their hard work in supporting our campaign and to the wider Eden community who signed our petition in large numbers and whose efforts influenced the decision to keep the office open”. Andy Knowles, branch secretary of East Lancashire branch said “To the Department’s credit it has responded positively to the representations made from across the Ribble Valley community. Management are now looking at co-location of services in Clitheroe rather than moving them to Blackburn and for the moment Clitheroe JCP is to remain open.”

Annette Wright, PCS DWP regional secretary said “PCS has shown that it is possible to keep a local service and to keep offices open when the union movement and the local community work together. Well done to Cumbria and East Lancs branches”.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Support John Pearson!

The following motion in support of victimised (former) PCS rep, John Pearson was passed unanimously by branch delegates at yesterdays North-West Regional Committee. The motion was proposed by Wigan Area Branch.
"In light of the recent Employment Tribunal which decided that John Pearson formerly of Hewlett Packard was unfairly dismissed and that the principal reason for dismissal was that he had taken part in the activities of an independent Trade Union.  
DWP North-West Regional Committee instructs the DWP Regional Secretary to write to the General Secretary, Mark Serwotka, requesting that: 
1) PCS Fully funds John's costs. 
2) PCS supports his reinstatement claim in the second part of the tribunal proceeding, which concerns the matter of remedy. 
3) PCS membership is restored to John immediately."

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Proposed Action in North-West Contact Centres

Action has been proposed by the North West Regional Committee to the Group Executive to confront the deteriorating conditions in North-West DWP Contact centres.

The DWP North West Regional Committee met today and unanimously agreed the following:

The following branches in the North West wish to put in a submission for industrial action in their contact centres: East Lancashire, West Lancashire, North Merseyside, Manchester and Salford, Liverpool, Wigan Area, Stockport and Tame Valley.

We want to ballot all members who work for Network Services on the following sites: Blackburn CC, Blackpool CC, Bootle CC, Chorlton CC, Garston CC, Makerfield CC, Stockport CC and Lancaster. We want the question on the ballot paper to be "are you prepared to take strike action?"

We want to take discontinuous strike action until the following demands are met.

1. An agreement that there will be no further use of agency workers and the agency workers at Makerfield will be offered permanent jobs.

2. An agreement that management will adhere to the leave arrangements contained in the Contact Centre Agreement.

3. An agreement that all staff will have free access to the flexibility agreed in the Contact Centre Agreement.

4. An agreement that there will be guaranteed job security for all remaining AAs.

The Group Secretary has informed us that the Group Exec has agreed principle to support this action on completion of the formal submission process.

We will keep members and branches informed of all future developments.

For more information please contact the Regional Secretary:

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Support Garston Contact Centre Members – Further Action Planned

Having already taken 8 days strike action this year including a five day strike from 13-17th October the 150 or so members in Garston Contact Centre show no inclination to give up the fight against the closure of the site.

A recent car park meeting voted by 93 votes to nil to take further action and this is now with the national union. Some gains have been made. In particular some (around 40) alternative jobs have been found in Belle Vale for members with mobility, health and caring responsibilities, excess fares allowance extended to five years from three, some job swaps have been agreed, compulsory moves to Birkenhead scrapped and management have conceded that there should have been proper consultation with PCS prior to the closure decision.

The last point is important but fails to help members in Garston. Proposals from PCS to set up satellite sights to carry out either Call Centre or Personal Independence Payment work have been rejected on the grounds this would cost around £100,000 to set up and yet PCS estimate the cost of the closure for excess fares, taxi fares to Bootle as reasonable adjustments and OHS referrals to be £719,000. There is also a potential cost for redundancy payments.

At heart this is a fight against the Governments’ austerity programme, in defence of jobs in the local economy and against managements’ attempts to treat people as bits of office furniture.

Messages of support and donations should be sent via PCS DWP Liverpool branch c/o PCS NW Regional Office, Jack Jones House, Islington, Liverpool L3 8EG.