PCS: No to DWP management’s plans – Yes to action

photo Paul Mattsson

photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Katrine Williams, vice-president, PCS union DWP group (personal capacity)

PCS union members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are reacting furiously to management’s rush to book appointments in all the Jobcentres, a move especially targeted at 18-to-24 year olds.

Throughout the pandemic, our members have ensured that anyone who needs our services gets help. But the priority has been delivering services safely and, in the main, this has been done over the phone or digitally, keeping both the public and our members safe.

We can continue doing this and focus on providing quality services, whereas management want to drag the public into Jobcentres for just a ten-minute appointment for no good reason.

With the soaring rate of Covid-19 cases, and more and more towns and cities going into local lockdowns, it is reckless to make claimants travel across communities into Jobcentres for an interview that could be done over the phone.

And help could be directed by our experienced members to those who most need the support rather than the stats-driven approach that is being proposed.

The plans are nothing to do with helping the public but all to do with government’s and bosses’ offensive against workers during the recession trying to make the working class pay for the pandemic.

Management has failed to comply with the duty to consult over the review of the Jobcentre risk assessments for this major change in services, This is making our offices even more dangerous, as the measures are not being put properly in place to deal with the increased callers safely.

But they have bitten off more than they can chew as they have enraged our members, and even many site managers are resisting the attempts to put the public and our members in danger.

Members are attending car-park meetings and frustrating the attempts to bring loads of claimants into our workplaces. We will not be restricted by management instructions not to tell claimants that attending the interview in a Jobcentre is voluntary.

Following the 77% consultative Yes vote supporting the union’s campaign to oppose the expansion of services and the opening hours of the sites, Broad Left Network supporters are demanding bold action to stop management’s dangerous plans.

The DWP group executive must follow through now with a statutory ballot for strike action and action short of strike action of all the members impacted to stop the extension of services and opening hours.