Strike over Universal Credit Staff Facing “Increasingly Oppressive” Working conditions.
IDS Faces Strike over ‘Pisspoor’ IT.
Thanks to: Gaia.
Call centre staff in charge of helping people through the Tories’ welfare reforms are going on strike in a protest against their ‘increasingly oppressive’ working culture.
Nearly 1,500 Universal Credit workers are walking out after complaining of staff shortages, poor training and money ‘squandered’ on IT that wasn’t used.
They claim they’re being given unrealistic targets as the government’s flagship reform is rolled out across Britain – over its original deadline and budget.
Bolton and Glasgow staff will walk out for 48 hours next Monday and Tuesday after 84% of Public and Commercial Services Union members voted for a strike.
The turnout was 56%.
The strike could spread to other Universal Credit service centres in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough, union bosses say.
The union, the PCS, says,
13 July 2015
The government’s flagship social security programme has been dogged by delays and allegations of money squandered on IT.
Staff have complained about a lack of resources, an oppressive management culture, inadequate training, hard to reach targets and staff shortages.
Almost 1,500 workers at the two original service centres in Bolton and Glasgow, where more than half of all universal credit staff are employed, will strike for two days next Monday (20) and Tuesday (21).
The union represents around 80% of staff at the centres that process claims to universal credit and take enquiries from claimants by telephone and online.
The dispute is over the imposition of new conditions, including predetermined start and finish times and severe restrictions on flexible working.
In a recent ballot, 84% voted for strikes and 90% voted for other forms of industrial action on a 56% turnout. The two-day strike will be followed by industrial action short of a strike until mid-August.
The union has not ruled out balloting its members at the other universal credit sites in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The introduction of universal credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services, and the DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.
“These harsher working conditions must be withdrawn, they simply heap more pressure on staff who have battled against poor IT, inadequate training and a lack of resources.”
The Register, specialising in IT stories, adds,
Universal Credit staff will strike for two days next week over “increasingly oppressive” working conditions and unusable IT, the Public and Commercial Services trade union has confirmed, following a vote late week.
The union’s members voted to down tools at the Glasgow and Bolton centres last week, where more than half (1,500) of all Universal Credit staff are employed.
The PCS union is also considering balloting its members at the other Universal Credit sites in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The introduction of Universal Credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services, and the DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.”
“These harsher working conditions must be withdrawn,” he continued, saying “they simply heap more pressure on staff who have battled against poor IT, inadequate training and a lack of resources.”
Last year, the DWP splashed £323.8m on the project. However, the National Audit Office has said just £34m of the project’s IT investment could potentially be reusable. So far, just 65,000 of nine million eligible people are on the system.
Originally the project – started in 2011 – was supposed to be complete by 2015/16, but the date has since been shifted to 2020.
The strike will begin on Monday 20 July. ®