Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Strike over Universal Credit Staff Facing “Increasingly Oppressive” Working conditions.

with 36 comments

IDS Faces Strike over ‘Pisspoor’ IT.

Thanks to: Gaia. 

Universal Credit staff go on strike in protest against ‘oppressive’ culture under Tory welfare reforms. reports the Mirror.

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,

Universal credit staff to strike for two days over oppressive working conditions

13 July 2015

Universal credit staff will strike for two days next week over increasingly oppressive working conditions, the Public and Commercial Services union announces.

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. ®



Written by Andrew Coates

July 14, 2015 at 10:53 am

36 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The word OMNISHAMBLES could not be better illustrated than with Universal Credit.

    Complicated I.T.

    Years behind schedule.

    Millions already wasted.

    Ludicrous if not impossible conditionality.

    Striking Civil Servants.

    It’s doomed I tell ye…doomed!!!


    July 14, 2015 at 11:12 am

    • And many people have suffered as a result of it.


      July 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm

  2. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    July 14, 2015 at 11:57 am

  3. PMSL!


    July 14, 2015 at 12:04 pm

  4. I do wish the striking workers well, People may not be aware that IDS has brought in his Nudge Unit, Behavioural Insights Team to train workers on Universal Credit. I recall him stating on a select committee last year that re Universal Credit Training, the Behavioural Insights team will be working one to one with advisors etc, he even said that ‘this time it will be our advisors who will be the guinnea pigs and not the claimants’ or words to that effect.

    So is it any wonder they are in the mood for striking? I also have read that the average expectancy of someone working for the DWP in JobCentres etc nowadays is 3 months. Most leave because they just cannot handle what they are coersed to do to their fellow man. So now they have a double wammy to contend with. Psychologically Abuse the clients, and accept that you need to be psychologically abused by us in order to do the job we demand of you.

    PCS Union is finally growing some Testicles. About time.

    ps. Another consideration is that these Advisors will be low paid and may well be having to endure sitting on both sides of the desk,

    I do pity them on many levels. The jobs out their are low skilled and insecure. In order to leave they need to find a replacement or face the firing line. But now they have to face both at the same time….
    Must be creating a whole load of mental health issues for them and their families. With the fear of being referred to the governments very own Psychological Therapies Units, set up to make them more resilient to abuse.


    July 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    • I did not know that Loobitzh – what they hell is this crank theory’s result?

      A strike!

      Andrew Coates

      July 14, 2015 at 3:26 pm

  5. We don’t need this UC crap. The DWP should stick with the tried and trusted systems. Did you know that the JSA Payments system (JPAY) still runs on DOS. It is JPAY you are looking at when your work coach calls up that black and white dialogue screen when you sign on in order to process your payment.

    IT Expert

    July 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    • FAO “IT Expert”

      What do the new electronic signing pads work on…

      …that’s when and if they actually work at all!

      No wonder staff are demoralised!


      July 14, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      • They work on Systems Holistically Integrated Technology (SHIT) 😀


        July 14, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      • Yup, the Jobcentre uses the corporate version Systems Holistically Integrated Technology for Enterprise (SHITE)


        July 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      • I thought the acronym S.H.I.T.E. stood for the Tory values of:

        Hard work


        July 14, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      • Those dysfunctional ‘signing pads’ are even more pathetic when you consider that we have just sent a man all the way to Pluto, an astronomical distance of 450 miles! Now the jobcentre will be expecting us to cycle all the way to Pluto and back on a daily basis to clean some toff Plutonian’s bog!

        Space Cadet

        July 16, 2015 at 12:28 am

  6. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    July 14, 2015 at 6:34 pm

  7. WIRRAL foodbank is to launch a ground-breaking scheme today which will
    see “fuel parcels” given out to those most in need.


    Another Fine Mess

    July 14, 2015 at 10:34 pm

  8. Unemployment up 15’000 according to ONS


    The ONS figures showed there were 30.98 million people in work in the March-to-May quarter. That was down 67,000 from the previous three-month period, and the first quarterly fall since April 2013.


    July 15, 2015 at 9:30 am

    • Unemployment will only rise, as we know.


      July 15, 2015 at 10:04 am

  9. A Wales-based company is partnering with the Department for Work and Pensions to roll out an initiative in South Wales job centres. to get people with mental health problems back into work.



    July 15, 2015 at 10:12 am

    • Any company called, ‘Start Smiling Again” is bound to be dodgy, by definition.

      Andrew Coates

      July 15, 2015 at 10:58 am

      • Yes, as in others we’ve seen.


        July 15, 2015 at 11:16 am

      • enigma

        July 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

      • “By visiting this website today, you have already taken that first important step towards regaining health, happiness and the confidence to live the life you deserve.”……

        Well with public money for this charlatan’s spiel they’re certainly smiling……

        Andrew Coates

        July 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm

  10. Labour’s leadership candidates have condemned government plans to change strike laws as being an ideologically driven attack on the labour movement.

    The biggest crackdown on trade union rights for 30 years will be unveiled on Wednesday, including plans to criminalise picketing, permit employers to hire strike-breaking agency staff and choke off the flow of union funds to the Labour party.



    July 15, 2015 at 11:06 am

  11. New Labour – Not Labour

    “I’m steeped in Labour,” [Mhairi Black (SNP) MP] says. “My family was diehard Labour. But the problem Labour and Tony Blair had was, in order to get back into power, they had to win over the Tory vote. That’s why they created this ‘New Labour’ identity. But really, what they created was ‘not Labour’. They don’t stand up for ordinary people anymore.”

    Interesting words from the youngest MP made in May this year just before the General Election. Mhairi aspires to be a “signpost” rather than a “weather-cock”.

    Full article here:


    Video clip of maiden speech here:



    July 15, 2015 at 1:04 pm

  12. The local food bank is getting a lot busier, many more homeless people appearing, not so many young people yet but not for too long.


    July 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm

  13. Seems to me from this report. They are only striking because of the change in flexi time conditions. Good let them see what the rest of us will have to put up with just to claim working tax credits.


    July 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    • As if it was ever going to be out of concern for us.


      July 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

  14. Do ministers ever think before they speak ?

    Are ministers aware every thing on the net gets archived and immortalised forever no matter if its text, picture or video, I seriously have to wonder these days.

    I say this as I read certain comments made in a BBC article about the new figures on unemployment and couldn’t believe my eyes yet again.

    Despite the rise in the jobless total, the UK’s Work and Pensions Minister, Priti Patel, said “there were jobs out there”.

    “When you look at the strength of the UK labour market – through the reforms we brought in in the last parliament and now as well we’re continuing to implement – we are seeing a lot of growth in the economy, and at the same time, wages are increasing, but vacancies are still at over 700,000, so there are jobs out there in the labour market and vacancies are there,”

    You would think that the fact there are still 700’000 jobs out there after all this time that the Tories would have figured out by now either employers present the biggest barriers to work and or jobs that are available do require skills by far and large the unemployed and inactive simply don’t have like a nursing degree, I.T programming, Physics degree, engineering or construction qualifications.

    But oh no, one dirty mouth minister who’s name is more befitting a porn star joins the tory line, rank and file. Granted she didn’t actually say it, but you could easily pick up the suggested tone that its the lazy feckless unemployed who’s at fault.

    Oh dear as if that’s true , then it appears to be infectious and is now spreading to the employed who have no doubt engineered there escape from a life of work what with the unemployed having it so good.

    Then there was,

    “It’s time for the government to boost the number of apprenticeships to give everyone the chance to earn, learn and contribute,” said Stephen Timms, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary.

    Good god man, what do you mean anyone, they only exist these days because,

    A: Its cheap labour and,

    B: Employers get a government handout.

    And that’s before I explain they only get this for under 24s and which age group gets offered the most apprenticeship, yep the under 24s. Then what about all the skilled older workers who lost there trades to make way for at least 2 apprentices possibly 4 (depends on wage) per worker. And when all that is going on other employers are using it to get already employed staff a free qualification.

    And where is he going with contribute, contribute to what, contribute to the spreading of the common cold maybe, I don’t know ?

    I know one thing though and that’s apprentices will never earn enough to pay taxes and NI regardless of age.

    Now Ms priti polly is just plain tory nasty but timms, timms still believes in fairies and that out there, theres a utopia for all of us.


    July 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    • Oh in the “its the lazy feckless unemployed who’s at fault” part I should have added this is the tories distancing themselves from the problem. Basically there implying without saying “its between the employer and employee, we’ve done our part”.


      July 15, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    • One of the ridiculous things about ‘apprenticeships’ is that everybody now applies for them, even old codgers like me….

      Andrew Coates

      July 16, 2015 at 3:49 pm

  15. Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2015



    July 16, 2015 at 11:22 am

  16. How bad are things for the people of Greece.



    July 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm

  17. APPRENTICE DEATH – Factory Boss Jailed for Corporate Manslaughter


    How many more “accidents” like this are waiting to happen..?


    July 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    • Its a shame it wasn’t a charge of wilful murder but as I suspected they claimed the reasonably practicable part of the HASAWA regarding risk assessments so could claim manslaughter instead of the proper charge it should have been.

      This company is a prime example of employers abusing apprentices/young kids and serves to highlight the poor vetting practices of agencies working with the government to help people back into work.


      July 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      • gaia,

        having done a Big murder Trial as the Jury foreman 15 years back, Murder as laid down by the Justice Lord at the Old Bailey said a Decision must have been made at some point – in this case was the Boss/foreman informed of the H&S danger issues? If he was then its murder, if not its manslaughter.

        Regarding prime example I agree, age of the individual, the conditions of the workplace etc in this case should be take into account but there you have it we can’t force the Authoritiys to lay a particular charge.


        July 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      • The problem Gazza is can prosecution prove how long the safety guards were bypassed for, as that’s the jewel in the crown to secure wilful intent, Without some other employee testifying against them its impossible to prove. The court case makes no reference of any employee testimony.

        Then there’s the chain of command a ploy often used to defer blame and in the case of this one luckily the employer could only blame there son which they cant do and hence why the employer wore this offence which often is never the case.

        I could go on but the case is done and its verdict doesn’t surprize me at all as that’s how it often unfolds except usually the employer or anyone doesn’t ever get to see the inside of a prison suite not that that matters in this case as the sentences handed out were next to nothing anyway.


        July 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      • Also before I forget, not any old tom dick and harry knows how to bypass a lathes safety meaning a skilled operative either inhouse or external must have done it.

        Machinists are taught how to use a lathe, not how it all fits together and works to a point that would allow them to bypass a safety. While the kid cannot be held to be said to know health and safety, the experienced engineers can so if prosecution threatened them with complicity they could have got I reckon some more dirt to level a better charge.

        I say this as people in small engineering firms use each others machines so someone must have been on it before this lad. It not impossible this company set aside lathes only for apprentices but this is highly unlikely.

        Well whats done is done so no chatting will change that but I will continue to fight for the removal of a certain clause and who knows, maybe one day someone will listen and act.


        July 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: