Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/525/3899

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 March 2008

Anger and strength in the DWP workplaces

DWP members strike on 17 - 18 march 2008

DWP members strike on 17 - 18 march 2008

ON 17 and 18 March, members of the civil service union PCS in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)were on strike for the second time against the imposition of a three year pay offer. Under this deal, 40% of staff would receive 0% - nothing - this year. And the lowest paid workers get increases taking their pay to just 24p an hour above the minimum wage.
Not surprisingly, this has led to a level of anger and a level of support that was at least as strong as during the two-day strike in December. We print below reports from PCS picket lines around Britain.

Sunderland

'We have no option but to strike'

AT SUNDERLAND Job Centre, Marie Donough described conditions in the workplace as 'dire'. Neil Todner, PCS branch chair (speaking in a personal capacity), agreed and explained that "our members want to support and help customers. However, we're given only a matter of minutes - which means not only is the service poor quality, but it goes against the government's own welfare reform agenda."

Marie Donough described Wear House as a "very unhappy building, where workers are being hammered". And because work is being transferred from all over the country, "Work/life balance is thrown out of the window. Workers who want to reduce their hours to part-time are told 'No'.

"Anyone going back to work after maternity leave hasn't got a chance. In the past, if someone retired they would be allowed back part-time. Now they are told, 'full-time or nothing'."

At Wear View House (Benefits Delivery Centre of Job Centre Plus) picket line strikers explained that this was the second largest delivery centre in the country, and that work was being transferred here from around the country.

Christine Oliver (site rep - personal capacity) said the response to the strike was '"fantastic - around 500 staff have solidly supported the strike".

Christine said that: "For workers, strike action is a last resort - but we have no other option." She had been a union activist all her life. At one time you had to patiently explain why a strike was necessary. However, this time, "When I was leafleting for strike action workers were shouting at me 'Yes we'll definitely be out!'"

Elaine Brunskill

Merthyr - this 'deal' is unacceptable

THOUSANDS OF civil servants working for the DWP were on strike across Wales as part of the national two-day strike against the government's pay freeze. On a Merthyr picket line, Dave Reid spoke to Aidan Price, secretary of Eastern Valley DWP branch PCS:

"PEOPLE ARE really angry about this; it's not a fair pay deal. 40% of our members in DWP would get 1% this year and effectively nothing for two years of this three-year pay deal. That's not acceptable.

"The government has also decided to go 5% above the recommended civil service cuts for the next three years so we're looking at 12,000 further redundancies within DWP. That is bound to increase the workload on people already coping with very high workloads.

"We also have a problem with the attendance management policy, a lot of people are being sacked because of sickness. We have the issue of progression within pay bands. We also want parity between departments so that the same grade in all departments gets the same level of pay.

"It's very important that we are paid fairly and that our pay keeps in line with inflation. Across the board we do very important jobs for the public and work very hard for our money."


Cityside NINO

A PCS rep at Cityside NINO told Naomi Byron: "The strike has really solid support and the office is down to about 20% of its normal operating level today.

"We're constantly facing changes to systems and the targets are moving as well, and we're under daily pressure dealing with increasing numbers of customers. On a regular basis we're overbooked and understaffed.

"If we had the staff that were supposed to be there, we'd still have problems dealing with the numbers of people. And then of course people go off for sickness and stress because of the working conditions and the staff left in the office are crippled. Despite this we meet all our targets and we exceed our targets on a regular basis. All we're asking for is a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

Another Cityside NINO striker said: "The government has a lot of money to play with, we found that out in the budget. What about decent pay?"


Newcastle

AT NEWCASTLE city Job Centre, Elaine Brunskill and Paul Phillips spoke to strikers. Keith Maddison said that Gordon Brown's announcement that 12,000 more jobs were to go and around 200 more DWP offices to close has meant: "Things are starting to bite. We're expected to do the same amount of work with a lot less staff."

Brian Morrison added, "Workers feel insecure. All this stuff about giving our work out to other agencies that will be paid 50,000 for each person they find. Why can't they use this money for us?"

The strikers clearly felt there was no difference between New Labour and the Tories.

They all nodded when one worker said: "We shouldn't call this lot New Labour - more like No Labour!"

Gordon Rowntree said he agreed with the stance of the firefighters' union FBU in Liverpool who are looking at standing in local government and parliamentary elections. He added that: "History shows us that workers' parties can be built out of the trade union movement - there's nothing stopping us doing it again."


Glasgow rally

AROUND 100 PCS members at the PCS Glasgow DWP strike rally heard from guest speakers, including PCS National President Janice Godrich and Scottish TUC President Phil McGarry.

PCS DWP regional secretary Stewart Dalley said that over 90% of DWP staff across Scotland had supported the morning's strike and many offices were reported closed.

Janice Godrich, who is also a member of the International Socialists (CWI in Scotland) reported that strike action was solid across the UK. Janice highlighted the DWP management's hypocrisy in claiming the pay award was a 'good deal.' It is a good deal for top management, some of whom have been awarded annual pay increases and bonuses that are greater than many PCS members' annual salaries!

Other speakers from PCS members in the DWP and Ministry of Defence said the problem of inflation was down largely to the greed of big business utility and fuel companies who continue to increase prices despite record profits.

Ian Fitzpatrick, PCS member, Glasgow

Picket lines round up

Peanuts in Hull

DWP STRIKERS at Britannia House, Hull are fed up with below-inflation wage rises. To highlight low pay in the civil service, they produced a placard saying "We won't work for peanuts". To reinforce the message they offered a peanut to those who crossed the picket line. One of the strikers said, "of course, we wouldn't give them one if they accepted".

Keith Ellis

Swansea

ROGER LANGLEY, DWP branch organiser for Swansea Pension Centre told Swansea Socialist Party members: "What is really biting is that the job cuts that Gordon Brown previously announced have meant a huge extra workload for the staff remaining. So, with all the extra workload and then being told there's no pay increase for 25% of our staff this year because of this imposed three year pay deal, we had no option but to go on strike."

Alec Thraves

Southampton

AT JOBCENTRE Plus in Southampton, PCS branch secretary Paul Luffman praised the turnout. "I think members have realised that really it is about more than just the pay deal. Everyone is frightened of privatisation - especially since one of the companies management wanted to contract out to has now gone bust."

Jamie Davis, Southampton Socialist Party

Walthamstow

THERE WAS an upbeat mood on the Dansom House picket line in Walthamstow. DWP workers were angry about the constant cutbacks in pay and staff, and the division of workplaces into different departments. The postal worker who refused to cross the picket line was greeted with applause. Socialist Party members were greeted warmly, and half the pickets bought copies of The Socialist.

Ben Robinson and, Bob Severn

Bangor

SIX UNION members and reps picketed outside Bangor Contact Centre on 17 March, with some new members joining on the day. Next day, the same situation was repeated with more members picketing too.

Anger was very high at the low pay these workers have to accept, with several either working or looking to work two jobs at once to afford to live. Several copies of The Socialist were sold over the two days.

Iain Dalton, Bangor Socialist Party

Hanley

THERE WAS a good mood on the DWP picket lines in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. A new Job Centre scheduled to open on Monday did not do so because of the strike action. Postal workers refused to cross the picket lines.

Andy Bentley

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 19 March 2008:

Global economic crisis

Darling's 'more of the same' budget


Anti-war demonstration

Interest in socialist ideas on anti-war demo


National Union of Teachers Conference

Strike back against pay robbery!

Magic strike at Merlin school

School tries to evict pupils


Socialist Party youth and students

Fight for decent youth facilities

Socialist Students


Socialist Party workplace news

Anger and strength in the DWP workplaces

End the blacklist!

Support for Shelter staff

Pay more to get less

One law for them, another law for us

In brief


Socialist Party news and analysis

It's not that councillors can't fight...it's that they won't!

Sack the mayor - not the wardens!

Remote MPs' privileged lifestyle

Salford campaign reprieves women's centre


Post Office closures

No more post office closures!

Following the Essex road


Socialist Party congress 2008

Socialist Party 2008 congress

Building a campaigning, fighting socialist party


International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Strikes and mass protests against government


 

Home   |   The Socialist 19 March 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

DWP:

triangleDWP to outsource more work to Capita

triangleSheffield Eastern Ave Job Centre strike ends

trianglePlymouth PCS members fight relocation threat

triangleFight expansion of disastrous 'Universal Credit' welfare system

triangleUN slams Tories for disabled rights ruin

Merthyr:

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

triangleWales: Corbyn's left surge refutes right-wing Labour doomsayers

triangleAberfan: a disaster that should never have happened

triangleUncovering the class struggle behind the Rebecca Riots

Hull:

triangleCatchy folk rock with a socialist edge

triangleHull youth festival

Bangor:

triangleFighting university cuts

triangleAttacks begin at Bangor University

Glasgow:

triangleWhere is Scotland going?

Southampton:

triangleSocialist Students day of action demands free education

Newcastle:

triangleRMT strikes against removal of train guards spreads

Sunderland:

triangleFar-right thrown out of Newcastle

Strike:

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

PCS:

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

13/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

Housing

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

6/12/17

Transport

Arriva bus strikers stand firm

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

More ...

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2