Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/425/4985

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 February 2006

DWP strike:

Civil servants strike back at Blair's cuts agenda

MEMBERS OF the PCS civil service union held two days of strike action in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 26-27 January, affecting JobCentres, benefit offices, pension centres and the Child Support Agency.

As PCS general secretary MARK SERWOTKA told the London rally on 26 January:

"The strike has been the best-supported so far, and it's the third national strike in the DWP since 2001 - over a million days of strike action."

The two-day stoppage followed cuts of around 15,000 jobs in the DWP. As our reports show, these cuts not only threaten workers' jobs but are bringing services to the verge of collapse in many areas.

Mark Serwotka commented:

"Management and the government could have met our demands but they have a wider agenda for cuts and job losses. They want to make 1 billion of annual savings regardless. At present 67 DWP staff are forced to leave work each month because of sickness.

"We must put maximum pressure on the government. There should be meetings with members in every area and there will be a national meeting of reps on 11 February to discuss how to take the struggle forward.

"1.5 million workers in the local government pension scheme are being balloted for a strike on 28 March. We must link our dispute with this. But we aren't waiting for 28 March for the next DWP strike.

"If NIPSA (Northern Ireland public-sector union) votes for an all-out indefinite strike they may try to transfer DWP work from Belfast. We must be clear we haven't the staff to do our normal work anyway, let alone any transferred work."


Wales

KATRINE WILLIAMS, DWP Wales Secretary (personal capacity) reports on an excellent turnout for the industrial action across Wales.

SUPPORT FOR strike action was even higher than for the national strike against the cuts in November 2004. In Wrexham pickets nearly outnumbered the 38 staff who went into work in the benefit-processing centre of 400 staff.

Half of the 39 staff who went into work on the strike days in Pembroke Dock contact centre were brand new staff who had just started training last week. The JobCentre in the small coastal town of Cardigan had its first DWP picket line ever.

The issues of privatisation of support services, the threat of handing over the advisors and other frontline staff to the private 'new deal' provider in Bridgend RCT district and the latest threat of 'offshoring' has concentrated members' minds on the real battle we face.

Services to the public have already been badly hit in Wales with the loss of over 700 experienced staff but management's vision of the future is even worse. Strike action has increased members' confidence and determination to fight to maintain services and vital jobs in our communities.

Swansea

AT THE huge Swansea Pension Centre, Roger Langley, PCS branch Secretary and Gloria Tanner, PCS branch organiser told Alec Thraves:

"Workers are angry at the job cuts and fear for the future. There is a lot of stress on our members.

"Management's attendance policy is used to disguise job cuts by dismissing people rather than give them redundancy packages and our members are left with more and more work with less staff.

"The last straw was the news that contact centres are going to be centralised with jobs going offshore to countries such as India. Claimants are the poorest section of society and most cannot even afford a phone to make their claims. Our members are determined to keep our jobs, conditions and a service that genuinely helps the most needy".

Gloria Tanner will be a platform speaker at the Swansea launch of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party on 16 February.


Leicester

No-one's job is safe

IN LEICESTER Paul Vizard, PCS Branch Chair of Yeoman Street pensions centre, and Regional PCS Chair of Leicester DWP said: "We have had brilliant support, about 90% on strike, despite the fact that this office is one they have said they are keeping.

"Even though a lot of people's jobs aren't at risk for the time being, members have supported the union. They know that no-one's job is safe in the long run and also that this is about defending the welfare state."


Southampton

STRIKERS AT Totton DWP office in Southampton told Nick Chaffey and Will Schafer-Peek: "Not that long ago there were 1,000 staff in Hampshire processing claims, that's down to about 200 now with a computer system that doesn't work.

"We know what this is about, they're cramming people into our office with plans to close us down in a year or two and move everything out of the South-East.

"The service is horrendous for vulnerable people. We can't contact the call centres, let alone the public. We have staff here with 30 years experience being replaced by staff given four weeks' training."

Activists in the PCS met with UNISON members in Southampton recently to discuss developing links between public-sector workers to fight this government. Plans are underway to build a Public Sector Alliance in the area. Trade unionists from CWU also supported the picket line, annoying management.


Westminster

"A charter for intimidation"

AT WESTMINSTER JobCentre, Christine and Mark, PCS reps spoke to Mick Philipsz, (PCS assistant branch secretary, Department for Education and Skills):

Staff are being threatened with dismissal just for being sick. After only eight days off sick, they face a formal warning. It is a charter for management victimisation and bullying. This is exacerbated by the 'Red, Green, Amber' appraisal system that also threatens staff with disciplinary action.

Westminster's workforce has already been cut from 76 staff to around 50 with no recognition of the extra workload. JobCentre clients who apply for emergency loans now have to apply months in advance, defeating the whole idea of 'emergency'. Staff see the attack on employment as part of a much wider agenda.

The petition for a new mass workers' party received a favourable response.


Picket round-up

Sheffield

PCS PICKETS told Sheffield Socialist Party members that privatisation and off-shoring were raising fears for the service. A claimant whose benefit had not arrived was advised to try the Salvation Army to get a food parcel. "Little did we know that the Sally Army could end up administering the entire Social Fund in a few years time!"

At the local rally there was support for mass picketing to enforce the overtime ban at week-ends. "The contact centre has been on emergency operations for months. Overtime is the only thing that keeps Sheffield district going." Others called for targeted action at contact and processing centres to supplement further national strikes, and for the jobs and services dispute to be extended throughout the civil service.

Lincoln

IN LINCOLN PCS pickets told us how government cuts meant that people in need were waiting up to six weeks for benefit payments to be processed, Mark Glasscoe reports. So the number of 'interim payments' - to people in need whose claims have yet to be approved - had increased massively.

Workers now deal with more interim payments in a month than they were previously getting in a year. If the claim is then not approved, for whatever reason, they have to pay the money back.

This particularly hit migrant and seasonal workers, a major part of Lincolnshire's local economy. Meanwhile management freeze recruitment whilst trying to implement the government's cuts programme and while Lincolnshire's unemployment figures were increasing!

Alfreton

ON THE picket line at Alfreton DWP office in Derbyshire, the steward Gary said that a regional manager from Nottingham was sent to keep the office open but all she could do was cancel appointments. When Gary asked if she'd be turning up next week to actually deal with claimants, there was a stony silence!

Reading

AT READING'S JobCentrePlus, PCS member Shaun McFadden confirmed that a dozen workers there had joined the union in the previous week. Senior managers seemed to think everything can be done using computers but people using the service expect to speak to qualified staff. This strike is primarily about saving a public service and is in everyone's interest.

Neil Adams

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


In The Socialist 2 February 2006:

Pensions: 'Back down or we strike!'

United mass action can defeat Blair's pensions plans

Firefighters prepare to strike against pensions' robbery

Building a new shop stewards' movement

Healthworkers back RMT and Socialist Party initiatives

2006: Year of opportunity

100 British victims of Blair's war

Political earthquake as Hamas wins election

Public health not private profit

Campaigning against privatisation of schools in Hackney

Lambeth students' successful boycott

Civil servants strike back at Blair's cuts agenda

Post Office: National action needed to defend jobs

Fighting council cuts in Devon

Defence workers battle privatisation


 

Home   |   The Socialist 2 February 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Bookshop






Related links:

DWP:

triangleChild poverty rises by 200,000 in a year

triangleJobseekers told: take three-hour commute

trianglePCS conference takes serious approach to key political and industrial questions

triangleGovernment defeated by check-off court challenge

trianglePCS leads the way in fightback against Tories

Strike:

triangleThe Ritzy strikes back

triangleRMT defeats ScotRail bosses: The guard stays on the train

triangleTube strike over management bullying

triangleThousands of Post Office workers strike

Pensions:

triangleChile: general strike threat as pensions protests grow

triangleThem & Us

Pension:

triangleThem & Us

triangleOld v young is a phoney war - the enemy is the 1%

Civil Service:

triangle500m on civil service redundancies in two years

PCS:

triangleAfter TUC congress 2016: Mobilise the anger!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

28/9/16

Scotland

RMT defeats ScotRail bosses: The guard stays on the train

28/9/16

Black history

Black history month and its relevance today

28/9/16

Waltham Forest

Butterfields campaign: 'We're not for sale'!

28/9/16

Labour Party

Labour Party conference: campaigning to reinstate socialist ideas

28/9/16

Far-right

Newcastle: Socialist Party defies ban to counter the far-right

28/9/16

NHS

NHS heart centre campaign intensifies

28/9/16

Unison

Unison Broad Left meeting

28/9/16

Napo

Napo conference 2016: Bloodied but unbowed!

28/9/16

Doctors

Junior doctors' strikes off - coordinated action needed

28/9/16

Brixton

The Ritzy strikes back

28/9/16

Greater Manchester

Victory for firefighters facing dismissal in Manchester

28/9/16

University

Setting out our stall... reports of campus campaigning

28/9/16

Housing

Washdyke v Shoreline: the housing battle in Immingham

28/9/16

Socialism

Socialism 2016: Get face to face with the socialists!

28/9/16

Fighting Fund

Pedal power pounds

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Jeremy Corbyn

triangle28 Sep Consolidate the Corbyn victory

triangle28 Sep RMT defeats ScotRail bosses: The guard stays on the train

triangle28 Sep Black history month and its relevance today

triangle28 Sep #CorbynWins: New tasks for TUSC

triangle28 Sep Butterfields campaign: 'We're not for sale'!

triangle27 Sep Leon Trotsky's living legacy

triangle24 Sep Corbyn victory another step to transforming Labour

More ...

triangle29 Sep Worcestershire Socialist Party: If Labour splits, can Corbyn win a general election?

triangle29 Sep Bradford Socialist Party: After the Labour leadership election - what next?

triangle29 Sep London Socialist Party & Socialist Students: After the Labour leadership election - build a party for the 99%

triangle2 Oct Birmingham: Tories Out national demo

More ...

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Categories

1-9 

1-9 


Archives:

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 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