Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/431/5071
PCS overtime ban - the issues
CIVIL SERVICE union PCS members have been fighting the government's plans to make massive staff cuts, particularly in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Part of the action includes a ban on overtime, which has thrown up questions which the following article by two PCS reps in Sunderland looks into.
SUPPORT FOR our strike days is high here in Sunderland District Jobcentre Plus offices. However, members are having a crisis of conscience regarding the boycott of overtime.
Angela Wallace, PCS DWP City of Sunderland Branch Secretary, personal capacity and Marie McDonough, PCS DWP City of Sunderland Organiser, personal capacity.
Overtime is being declined by our members and offices are not opening as expected at weekends because the staff will not work. But in recent weekends some members have been working overtime!
When overtime is picketed at the weekends the handful of members attending work are expressing concern for the benefit customers they are dealing with.
One member said: "Customers are already waiting too long for benefit payments. They need to be seen and the benefit processed to get the money they are entitled to".
It is alleged that there are 1,500 outstanding claims for Jobseekers' Allowance in Sunderland. That means there is up to 1,500 people waiting for benefit payments. Other members are saying they cannot afford to turn down overtime and are going to take the money while they can!
Within the city of Sunderland we have lost one Jobcentre during the change of our services to Jobcentre Plus and we have one of three benefit processing centres in our region.
At this time we are not seeing our colleagues lose their job through the 15,000 job cuts that have hit our department but we will see it soon when they continue the cuts up to the target of 30,000.
Staff in Sunderland are now being declared 'surplus' because the section where they work has been reduced in size and relocated.
By 2008, staff in Sunderland will be paying for the job losses in their working conditions and what ministers and managers will expect them to deliver - without the overtime money!
In The Socialist 16 March 2006: