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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:
- End to micro-management; allow line managers to manage
- Fair performance management
- Annual leave levels to be 25% with in-work leave/network days allowed
- Full access to flexible working
- Fair and transparent application of DWP policies (MA, people performance, SPL/sick leave)
- Permanent jobs for FTAs
- Job security for AA grade staff.
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.
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.
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.