Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/655/11033
From The Socialist newspaper, 26 January 2011
DWP contact centre strike
As Unemployment figures jumped again, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) civil servants in the PCS union were taking strike action to provide a decent service to claimants. The overwhelming majority of the 3,500 workers in Newport, Bristol, Chorlton, Glasgow, Makerfield, Norwich and Sheffield who have been transferred from benefit processing to call centres came out on strike on 20-21 January against worsening working conditions and a poor service to the public.
Alistair Tice, Dave Reid, Hugh Caffrey and Tom Baldwin report.
On the picket line in Sheffield, Linda called the two office floors of Sheffield DWP contact centre "the chicken run" - 500 staff but only 400 seats. Another picket said it's "like a prison cell".
Lauren explained that most of the Sheffield contact centre staff were transferred from benefit processing. Many have years, some decades, of experience in benefit delivery. Now they are glorified call centre workers, forced to read from a script, timed on every call, unable to give claimants the benefit of their knowledge and experience.
A new manager has been brought in to enforce these industrial conditions. He is attacking the union to force them through. Five PCS reps have been de-recognised and facility time withdrawn. They face disciplinary action for attending a branch executive committee.
Adam said: "This is the biggest picket we've had for years, it just shows how angry everyone is."
At the Makerfield site near Wigan in Lancashire, almost all the 800-strong workforce were on strike and mounted two pickets.
Despite the freezing weather in Bristol, the pickets were in an upbeat mood and reported that the strike was even more solid than previous ones, with more people out on the picket lines.
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 26 January 2011:
Socialist Party youth and students
Fight for jobs and education
Where next for the student movement?
Education Maintenance Allowance days of action 18 and 19 January
No to sky-high youth unemployment!
Socialist Party news and analysis
Warning: Government health 'reforms' can seriously damage your health
Phone hacking and media spin - the murky world of Andy Coulson
Food price hikes fuelling unrest
Fight the Con-Dem 'bosses' charter'
RMT leader slams anti-union laws
Marching against council cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
Hampshire: Battling to defend jobs
Second show of strength by Medirest workers
BA workers vote to fight on
DWP contact centre strike
National Shop Stewards Network
NSSN anti-cuts campaign launched
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) conference
International socialist news and analysis
Irish government collapses: United Left Alliance offers real alternative
Tunisia: Protesters demand real democracy and social change
50 years ago: Congo's independence leader assassinated
Socialist Party schools features
Tidemill school - victory for parents
Save Our Schools
Bankers' "Free school" excludes poorer pupils
Socialist Party review
Britain's Banks: Too Big to Save?
Three decades of 'reform' and 'flexibility'
Stop the mental health service cuts
The Socialist 26 January 2011 |
Join the Socialist