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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 February 2019

Universal Credit staff ballot for action

PCS strikers, photo Iain Dalton

PCS strikers, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

The possibility of strike action on 11-12 March is on the cards at Walsall and Wolverhampton Universal Credit service centres. The ballot finishes on 25 February.

Workers in Universal Credit sites constantly suffer under the pressure of huge numbers of phone calls, many from desperate claimants. Chronic understaffing means only one in four claimants gets through to their designated case worker, and staff do not always get the time to help callers.

Dave Semple is a civil servants' union PCS rep and leads the Universal Credit negotiations in the Department of Work and Pensions. He's a member of the union's national executive committee. Writing in a personal capacity, he said: "Five all-members meetings at these two sites have made clear staff are unhappy and want changes."

"The union has talked to the Department of Work Pensions, has talked to Parliament, and has raised every reasonable argument. But they do not want to listen. The union will support members taking action - and socialists must fight to broaden out this dispute to the many other Universal Credit workplaces deeply unhappy at their treatment."

PCS estimates that at least 5,000 additional staff are needed to deal with the Universal Credit workload alone! Universal Credit is another area where staff are hired on fixed-term contracts, despite the massive workloads.

Hand-in-hand with the issues facing Universal Credit workers are the appalling problems that claimants deal with. Universal Credit's roll out has brought with it sharp rises in foodbank usage and homelessness.

The union will soon be balloting nationally over pay. It's so low in the Department of Work and Pensions that more than 10,000 staff have to claim tax credits and will ultimately be on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit must be scrapped. Claimants and workers must unite in fighting against all forms of Tory austerity and attacks on the working class.

A PCS member

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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.

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In The Socialist 20 February 2019:


News

Nationalise Airbus and other manufacturing plants to save jobs now!

NHS crisis deepens: Workers' and community action can save our health service

What we heard

What we saw


Youth climate strikes

"There's no planet B": Thousands of youth strike against climate change - we need socialist change!

Youth strike for the climate reports: "There's no planet B"


Opinion

TV: Les MisÚrables - Hugo's novel and this adaptation both offer a message of hope

The Socialist Inbox


What we think

Eight Blairites split - Now kick out the rest


Workplace news

PCS Left Unity must unite on pay and elections

Universal Credit staff ballot for action

Annoyed?! I'm annoyed to be on poverty wages

Nationalise to save jobs at Honda!

Birmingham bin strike against 'blacklisting'

Deliveroo riders strike against exploitative pay and conditions

Leicester college pay strike goes on

Cardiff Uni: urgent action needed to stop job cuts

Hackney: Unite fights racism and victimisation

Harrowing accounts of austerity at Unison women's conference

Unite GLL pay campaign


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish state: social polarisation and budget defeat force snap election


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Unite union London council workers back Enfield Labour no-cuts call

Leeds TUC presents a no-cuts alternative budget

Socialist Students conference shows potential for fighting leadership

London housing campaigners disrupt auction

Birmingham Uni: Standing up to racism is not harassment!

Leicester Socialists stand against Blairite mayor

Lincoln students back UCU ballot

Leicestershire needs NHS beds

Claimants and union slam Universal Credit

Energy retail firm collapse hits Tyneside


World economy

New recession fear stalks the world economy


 

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