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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 April 2021

PCS ballots members in Jobcentres over safety

Jobcentre Plus, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

Jobcentre Plus, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in PCS

It is evident that the government is driving ahead to reopen Jobcentres to the public with reckless haste. Ministers are clearly linking public access to Jobcentres with the return to conditionality and sanctions in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which had been suspended during the height of the pandemic. So as soon as Johnson's roadmap indicated that non-essential shops could open from 12 April there was pressure to restart face-to-face appointments in the Jobcentres.

The number of Covid-19 outbreaks in DWP offices reduced dramatically when, finally, every member of staff was offered the opportunity and the IT kit to work from home, and the majority of staff finally left the offices. It is reckless to bring PCS members back into the workplace, as well as expect the public to travel to appointments, when Covid-19 is still present in our communities.

This has the potential to needlessly spread the virus for work that can be done effectively over the phone, with both PCS members and the public remaining safely at home. This exposes that the rush to fully open the Jobcentres is not about services to the public but how the government wants to return to the normal DWP regime, rather than focusing on paying benefits and supporting people.

The PCS DWP group executive committee has decided to run a consultative ballot over safety from 5 May to oppose the ramping up of face-to-face interviews in Jobcentres, with the focus on individually contacting and emailing members rather than working through our branches.

Broad Left Network members will work flat out to get a 'yes' vote in the ballot while recognising the limitations in the way the group leadership is running the campaign. We have been clear that building up the collective resistance across our branches and members is critical to this campaign. While advice has been issued to members about their health and safety rights, it again leaves members isolated to fight the battles themselves.

What is clear is that there needs to be pressure built up across all the Jobcentres uniting members together. Management may think they can pick on the most vulnerable members health-wise or contract-wise to staff the work.

The best response to this is to organise members together in each workplace to stop individuals being picked off and to tackle safety concerns. Broad Left Network members have been working hard to build the campaign for safety and help branches organise members' meetings. We see the following demands as the best way of mobilising members together:

PCS DWP group elections start on 29 April. As well as voting for Marion Lloyd for PCS national president and all the Broad Left Network candidates in the national executive council elections we are calling on PCS members in DWP to also vote for Broad Left Network-supported candidates in the DWP group elections:


PCS ballot - vote Broad Left Network

PCS members are voting in elections for the union's president and national executive committee. It is a postal ballot which closes 13 May. PCS is the union for government workers in the civil service and public and private sectors.

The PCS left rank-and-file group, the Broad Left Network, is standing Socialist Party member Marion Lloyd for president and candidates for vice-presidents and the national executive committee.

The Broad Left Network was formed by socialists to replace the current ineffective union leadership, and has challenged their defeatist approach to the key issues facing the union. These include pay, with no fight back against government attacks, and Covid-19, where, for the most part, a fightback has been left to individual members, and any collective action has been too little and too late. The BLN alternative on these and other issues and the slate for the PCS elections can be found at pcsbln.wordpress.com

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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.

  • 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.
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In The Socialist 28 April 2021:


Elections

Vote TUSC to oppose sleazy capitalism

Why you should vote for TUSC

Campaigning for a no-cuts, socialist Liverpool mayor


International news

India's health system in meltdown under Modi's misrule


Campaigns news

Socialist Student action marks the way for a national student movement for free education

South West regional conference shows that socialist ideas can grow

To get Socialist ideas out there, we need to have the funds


News

Protesting works - unite to defend the right to protest

No trust in billionaire football owners - kick them out and reclaim the game

Private sector is stealing the NHS

39 'postmasters' cleared - now clear the rest

Generation eviction


Workplace news

Usdaw's virtual annual conference - a mockery of union democracy

PCS ballots members in Jobcentres over safety

Goodlord strikers fight fire and rehire as part of day of action

Devonport tugboat crews strike against rota changes

St Mungo's workers walkout

Thurrock bin strike in third week


Ireland

How partition of Ireland derailed a revolutionary struggle for national and social liberation

Irish police aid strike-breaking at Debenhams store in Dublin


Welfare state

Poverty increasing. Welfare state in crisis. Do we need a new Beveridge Report?


Environment

What councils can do to protect the environment


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


May Day Greetings 2021

International Workers' Day - struggle, solidarity, socialism


 

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