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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 September 2018

DWP: PCS union builds fightback on pay

PCS DWP civil servants in Leicester taking strike action, photo Leicester Socialist Party

PCS DWP civil servants in Leicester taking strike action, photo Leicester Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Semple, PCS DWP group assistant secretary (personal capacity)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its pay offer to staff on 3 September. What has shocked and surprised many PCS members is that the DWP didn't even write to the Treasury to make a case for much-needed extra money to fund a pay rise.

The Treasury only funded the amounts already agreed in the 'Employee Deal' of 2016. In that deal workers were offered modest pay rises if they were willing to accept contractual changes, including alterations to opening hours and other changes to working conditions. Higher-grade staff were not included in the deal, and received just 1%.

No one will begrudge hard-pressed senior staff a pay rise. Staff excluded from the Employee Deal were still expected to fall in line with the new ways of working.

However, many low-paid members are likely to be angry that extra money found from existing budgets and recycled from the bonus pot was not directed towards all staff who had not had an above-inflation pay rise.

Members voiced their anger when senior DWP management said it was going to delay the pay rise agreed under the Employee Deal which was due to be granted in July 2018.

The strength of feeling expressed by PCS members forced management to consult with the union and to back down. They paid up on time.

Now members will also be angry at DWP senior management's so-called review of the Employee Deal, which 'protected' the planned pay increases from inflation using the figure as it stood in 2016.

Inflation has substantially risen since. This makes management's review meaningless if it does not include demanding extra money from the Treasury to address the external and economic factors, like the 2% increase in inflation since 2016.

Failing to demand more from the Treasury also means not addressing the paltry 0.25% 'pay rise' that was paid for the 17% of staff who were entitled to the Employee Deal but who chose to opt out rather than accept the contractual changes.

Worse off

The Employee Deal pay rises were agreed to address the chronic lack of pay progression and the inability of workers to get onto to the rate for the job at the max of the pay scale. This was in the context of years of pay restraint.

For those who had been stuck at the bottom of the pay scales this required 20% increases over the four years of the Employee Deal.

The refusal to undertake a proper review and address the devaluing of the deal in relation to rising inflation means everyone is worse off.

There is a need to unite all staff and grades to build the fightback.

Clearly the PCS pay campaign must continue, and department union groups should coordinate campaigning together to maintain pressure on the government for this year's pay round as well as building the strategy to fight on 2019 pay.

In DWP, the union's group executive committee met on 30 August and made clear that the offer is unacceptable as it falls so far short of the union's pay demands.

DWP has granted time for members to be consulted, and workplace meetings will be organised in every office to give a clear response to management on what our members think of the offer.

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