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Support PCS Members in Garston Contact Centre

People on Merseyside are right to protest about the £156m cuts to local authority spending in Liverpool. What has attracted less publicity is the way in which central Government jobs have been bleeding out of the city, also as a result of the Tory Governments public sector spending cuts.

The latest of these was the announcement on 28th January about the closure of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Call Centre in Garston. This centre is a major employer in Garston, where staff provide telephone advice to customers with benefit enquiries or assistance to claim Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance. It is ironic that the Government Department with the responsibility of finding people work should be cutting jobs in a city with above unemployment rates well above the national average.

Even more outrageously the only rationale given for the closure is that it was “cheaper than closing the Bootle Call Centre”. PCS do not believe that either site should be considered for closure. Since the demise of Liverpool Pension Centre in 2006, nearly 800 jobs have been cut by DWP within the City of Liverpool. This is totally unacceptable. Many of the workers involved face a second transfer within two years following earlier closures and although most people will be offered work in Bootle a considerable number will not be able to transfer and there will be job losses not just among the call centre staff but also among the cleaners, catering and security staff.

PCS members in Garston say enough is enough. At a recent union meeting members voted “to mount a vigorous public campaign using all means both political and industrial and through the media with the primary aim of reversing the closure.” We are currently awaiting authority from the national union to ballot for strike action.

In the meantime we need your support. Please write to your Members of Parliament and City Councillors to protest at the closure. Messages of support can also be sent to PCS DWP Liverpool Branch at the following address:

     PCS NW Regional Office, Jack Jones Building, Islington Liverpool L3 8EG 

or by e-mailing

Fight Every Closure – Fight for Every Job

PCS is spearheading a united campaign against welfare cuts alongside other trade unions and charities.

Because we believe that the government’s approach is fundamentally wrong our welfare campaigning aims to tackle the divisive and uncaring policies head-on.

£30 billion cuts

Supportive social security systems based on dignity and respect help individuals, families, communities and the wider economy.

Life on benefits is far from easy. Since the link between benefits and earnings was ended under the Thatcher government the level of benefits has fallen from 20% of average waged income to only 10%. Jobseeker’s Allowance for someone under 25 is now only £56.80.

Yet this government has now launched the biggest attack on the welfare state for generations:

·         Individual benefits for children, housing and health have been frozen, cut or abolished.

·         People with disabilities and unemployed workers face punitive new systems based on conditionality, sanctions and low benefit levels.

Action now

Join us. Take action now to defend welfare.
All out on 4th June 2013
All North West DWP Group members are out on strike on Tuesday 4th June along with HMRC members, as part of a week of action in the two departments in support of the national campaign.  There should be picket lines at all offices early in the morning.  Get down to the picket and also please try and attend the nearest rally, details below.

Manchester Rally

11.30am Cross Street Chapel, Cross St Manchester, M2 1NL

Chair: Alex Davidson (PCS Vice-Chair NW Region)
Speakers: Helen Flanagan (PCS NEC and DWP Vice-President), 

Tracy Edwards (PCS HMRC Industrial Officer), 
Steven North (Salford Trades Council President and Salford Unison Branch Secretary) 
local PCS activists

Liverpool Rallies

11am outside Bootle Jobcentre, Park House, 218 Stanley Rd, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3PN

1pm Derby Square

Please try and attend both if you can

Preston Rally
Stanley Arms 
Lancaster Road
Chair: HMRC Branch Representative
Speakers: Gavin Hartley (PCS GEC), 

HMRC GEC and NEC speakers
 local PCS activists.

Join the protest to defend welfare
29th April 12.30-13.30
Ashton Town Hall Steps, Market Place, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6DL
Speakers from PCS, Unite and community campaign groups

CS believes the introduction of conditionality for those in work, and stricter sanctions for those out of work at this time are cruel, ineffective, unnecessary and discriminatory; the government’s preferred option of online claiming discriminates against those with disabilities and on low incomes. The government target of 80% of Universal Credit being claimed online is unrealistic. We are calling on the government to rethink Universal Credit and develop an approach based on creating jobs and supporting people into those jobs as opposed to punishing them for not being able to find jobs.

Support the Strike On Friday.  Support the Overtime ban.

If you are in work on Friday afternoon you should go on strike.
If you have any queries about how the strike will affect you due to your working pattern, your reps now have detailed advice which is also available on the national website at

Weekend of Action Starts next Friday
All DWP Members Get Ready to Walk out at 1pm

The strike action, which will start at 1pm on 5 April across the UK, will see tens of thousands of members in the civil service and related bodies walk out of their workplaces in the dispute over pay, pensions, and terms and conditions.

All members covered by the national strike ballot - except those who work in HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office - will take a half day strike on 5 April starting at 1pm for 3hours, 42 minutes.

All members who work in HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office will take part in a half-day strike on 8 April which will end at 1pm when they walk in to their workplaces.

This action will mean that there will be disruption across the weekend. The action in HMRC is targeted to affect the introduction of the Real Time Information (RTI) system for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxation.

Employment Tribunal Victory For FTA Members
An employment tribunal has found in favour of PCS members who were dismissed at the end of Fixed Term Appointment Contracts without being given redundancy payments.

The tribunal decision centred on the question of whether the dismissal of an FTA by DWP at the end of their contract was a dismissal on the grounds of redundancy or a dismissal for ‘some other substantial reason’. PCS consistently argued that these dismissals were redundancies and therefore the FTA’s were entitled to a redundancy compensation payment in line with the provisions of the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. The tribunal has now confirmed that these dismissals were indeed redundancies.

The Civil Service Compensation Scheme says that “as long as the fixed term employee has at least two years qualifying service and is being dismissed for redundancy, they will receive the same compulsory compensation terms as a permanent member of staff.” Broadly speaking this compensation amounts to one month’s pay for each year of qualifying service.

FTA members in the region must now wait to see management's response to this important decision.

Thanks For Your Support
Thanks to all members who supported the strike on 20th March and to the many members who attended picket lines and rallies around the region.  PCS got lots of local press coverage and all reports are that the strike went well and had a big impact.

What Happens When You Go On Strike?PCS is calling  strike action in defence of pay, pensions, terms and conditions. April. You may be wondering just what this means in terms of your job and any loss of pay.

The following may be helpful:

  •  Some managers may start asking members if they intend to join the dispute. You do not have to give this information and if they are PCS members, those managers should be asking themselves the same question! Any attempts at intimidation should be reported to your PCS rep.
  •  You may well receive a letter from the department warning you of the consequences of going on strike. This is common practice and seems worse than it really is. You cannot be sacked or discriminated against for taking part in strike action following a lawful ballot

  • You can only lose pay if you go on strike you do not lose the flexi time as well 

  •  Members close to retirement often fear taking strike action will affect their Pension. The truth is the effect is minimal.

  •   PCS cannot afford strike pay for every member however most branches have a hardship fund available with a limited amount of money for those in desperate need once the pay has been deducted.

  •  Temporary staff can feel very vulnerable, it is however unlawful  for management to terminate your contract for supporting lawful industrial action. 
  • ·Your office should be picketed in order to peacefully try and persuade people not to go in to work on those days. Please support PCS by joining your own picket line Don’t just leave it to the reps.

  • Non- members can join PCS any time even on the picket line on the first day of the dispute. As soon as you sign the form you are a member and can go on strike.

The Cost to Your Pension of a One Day Strike
Sometimes PCS members approaching retirement worry about the effect upon their pensions of taking strike action, especially in their final year, pointing out that the pension is based on the best of the last 3 years of service.  As your pension has to last you for the rest of your life, this concern is quite understandable.  However, PCS in the NW has looked into the matter and can confirm that this is a needless worry.

Firstly, the effect of a strike on your pension is identical whether that strike took place 35 years ago or last week.  This is because your pension is calculated on your gross salary, which does not reduce because you have been on strike. 

The other part of the pension calculation is the total number of days you will have worked for the department when you leave.  Common sense tells us that one day is a minuscule percentage of the total.

To get a good idea of the effect of a one-day strike on your pension, simply divide your gross salary by 292.  This will give the yearly loss in pence (before tax). 

For example, an EO earning £23510, divided by 292 = 80.5p a year, or 1.5p per week, before tax.

The effect on part-time or part year workers is not quite so easy to calculate, but even if you use the full-time equivalent of your salary, you will see the figure is negligible. 


For convenience, here is a ready reckoner

Gross salary

















Loss in pence per year 
(before tax)

















Join your picket line on 20th March
Don't just stay in bed on strike day.  There will be picket lines at all offices.  Speak to your rep and go along.  There will be events later in the day in large towns.  More information here soon.

Guidance to Members on the Contact Centre Dispute Agreement

Recently members agreed via ballot that the CCS dispute was a success and the dispute to be finished.

DWP NW Regional Committee has agreed to send out a shorter version of the improvements gained by your hard work and determination.

All members are encouraged to use the flexi system to stay until 6pm if they wish providing there is work to do.

Volunteers will be sought from staff to work regularly until 6pm.

At the start of the day people can arrive 20 minutes before their shift starts

Members are allowed to arrive 40 minutes after their scheduled start time (including log in time). 

Real Time Officers should liaise with Team Leaders and not the agent, only where agents 

are severely non-adherent.

Average Handling Times (AHTs) will not be used as a sole measure of performance

Average Handling Times will not be used to measure an agent’s performance more frequently than fortnightly.

There is no fixed level of time allocated per day for toilet breaks. Toilet breaks will not be monitored. All agents are encouraged to drink plenty of water and take regular breaks.

Once an agent has chosen a time slot for their lunch break they can start their lunch break at any time within their chosen time slot. There must be sufficient slots to allow all staff to take up an hour lunch break.

Line managers can override a block of 15 minutes in a period of leave.

CCS will be proactive in finding alternative work for staff unable to carry out normal duties under the fit-note principles

After a period of absence of one weeks duration or more, agents will be scheduled a minimum of a one hour catch up before taking calls.

All members are able to use the In-day leave process that has been rolled out.

All members are now involved in the Rota for all sites regarding closing times.

 If members have any issues with non compliance they should raise this with their team leader.  If it cannot be resolved they should raise it with their TU Rep for escalation.



You work hard to deliver public services and did nothing to cause the UK’s economic problems - yet you’re being made to pay the price. 

Pay - After two years of a pay freeze, and now the two-year 1% pay cap, your wages have been slashed and we know people are suffering

Pensions - The hike in your contributions means you are paying more, but getting less and working longer for it
Terms and conditions - The ongoing review threatens your contractual rights at work – potentially meaning longer hours, fewer holidays and family-friendly policies, less sick pay, and reductions in flexi time.

We've asked for real, national negotiations but so far ministers are refusing to talk to us.

We’re focusing on a range of demands including:
  • A pay increase of £1,200 or 5% for 2013
  • An end to the pay freeze/cap
  • Scrapping plans to rip up our terms and conditions
  • An end to the raid on public sector pensions.
Ballot runs from 8 February to 4 MarchAs a result of the government’s refusal to negotiate, the union’s national executive has agreed to ballot members in the civil service and associated bodies for industrial action, including strike action.

This latest national ballot is necessary because the vote held in 2011 was focused on joint union action over pensions.

Vote ‘yes’ for strike action and vote ‘yes’ for action short of a strike to support a programme of action to make the employer negotiate a fair settlement on pay, terms and conditions, pensions and job cuts. 

 Need a ballot paper?To take part in the ballot we need a current ballot address for every member.

If you have moved house or workplace then you may need to update your ballot address.

The last date to update ballot address and/or request a replacement ballot paper is noon on Tuesday, 26 February.

Members can request replacement ballot papers by or telephone on 020 7801 2670/2680.

Identification is by membership number or national insurance number, which should be included in the email again, or quoted in the telephone call.


The next meeting of the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union group takes place next Saturday 26th January in Manchester, at the Methodist Central Hall on Oldham Street. There is a map of how to get there

The meeting will start at 12, and should last around 2 hours. The venue is around 10 mins walk from Manchester Piccadilly Train Station. An agenda will be sent out shortly, but we will begin with a general discussion about Trade Unions and Climate Change as well as the Million Climate Jobs campaign.

Please contact Sue Lloyd PCS DWP North West Regional Green Office at Crewe Jobcentre if you will be going.


Agreement reached with DWP to avoid compulsory redundancies

You will be aware that members in DWP voted in the recent ballot in favour of industrial action, regarding the 43 DWP staff subject to a notice of compulsory redundancy.

PCS has been engaged in very constructive discussions with management with a view to avoiding the need for these compulsory redundancies. As a result of these discussions, management have now made a firm offer to PCS.

Management proposals

An offer of ongoing work to be made to all of the 43 AAs and AOs subject to compulsory redundancy notices. This ongoing work is file destruction work and is estimated to last for at least a year. This offer of work will be located in the current location of the 43 staff, with the exception of the staff based in Carlisle. For the staff in Carlisle the offer of work will be located in Penrith. The offer of ongoing work is voluntary. Any of the 43 staff who still want to leave DWP can do so under the compulsory redundancy terms as previously proposed. The compulsory redundancy notices, of the staff who accept the management offer of ongoing work, will be withdrawn by mutual consent.

This is a significant achievement. It is very good news for all concerned, but especially for those staff facing compulsory redundancy. They will now have a choice as to whether they stay in DWP or not.

Wider staffing issues

DWP has reaffirmed its commitment to avoiding compulsory redundancies and agreed to do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies in the future, working closely with PCS to this end, in line with the Cabinet Office protocols. This is also a very welcome commitment. DWP refer, not just to the measures in this offer, but also to other positive measures they are taking, as evidence of this commitment. These include the permanent recruitment ongoing in Pensions and CMG and also the work ongoing to redeploy the staff displaced by the Social Fund changes in April. PCS is absolutely opposed to the use of compulsory redundancies. 

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