Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘PCS

PCS Balloting on Strike Action in Job Centres.

with 195 comments

Image

Consultative ballot over safety in jobcentres

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is balloting members on potential strike action

.

The Department for Work and Pensions says it is “disappointing to hear” that Jobcentre Plus staff are considering industrial action after the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) launched a ballot for members as to whether to strike.

The union launched the ballot this week amid an ongoing dispute over staff being asked to return to working in-person at jobcentres around the country, rather than continuing to work from home during the pandemic.

In response, the DWP told Plymouth Live it was disappointed that the union had “chosen this course of action, as the country re-opens and our jobcentres return to full opening hours”.

The department said it remains “absolutely committed to maintaining all our services to customers, and [to] ensuring our sites remain Covid-secure for colleagues and customers in line with the latest public health and Government guidance”.

Use your vote in the PCS DWP safety ballot

07 May 2021

PCS is asking DWP members to share their views in a consultation ballot about the safety risks caused by the extension of services in jobcentres and rushed plans for video calling

Are you worried about being forced back into a jobcentre when your work can be done from home? Then you need to vote yes in our safety ballot.

This ballot, which ends on 21 May, is not just about work coaches and face-to-face work. It is equally about the safety of all staff in jobcentres.

  1. Are you concerned about your safety?
  2. Are you an AO band B being forced back into a jobcentre when you don’t really do face-to-face work and your job could just as easily still be done more safely from home?
  3. Are you an HEO being forced back into a jobcentre when your job could just as easily still be done more safely from home.
  4. Are you concerned about the safety risks from management’s rushed plans for video calling?

PCS is opposed to AOs and HEOs being forced into offices and put at risk. We say the DWP is rushing too many people back too soon. They are putting you, security guards, cleaners and the public at risk.

Video calling is another ill conceived, rushed idea that endangers staff. There is no guaranteed protection against your identity being shared publicly, or your video call being recorded and shared. And DWP isn’t prepared to pay the money it will take to safeguard you against these risks.

If you vote yes in the PCS safety ballot it will mean your union has more strength in negotiations to stop AOs and HEOs being forced into jobcentres and to stop video calling being forced on our members.

If you are angry and concerned about these thing vote yes.

This is an electronic online ballot for members who have registered a personal email with PCS and postal for those that haven’t. 

Non-members who join by noon on 12 May can vote.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2021 at 3:57 pm

Jobcentre staff may go on strike

with 277 comments

This story came up a few days ago, which our contributors noted:

Covid: Strike ‘possible’ over longer job centre opening

The return to normal opening hours for job centres is putting users and staff “in harm’s way”, a union has warned.

The PCS said it would not rule out strike action, arguing the extension should instead put back until Covid vaccines were “fully rolled out”.

Job centres went back to their pre-lockdown hours on Monday, having previously been cut to 10am to 2pm.

Today we hear:

Universal Credit fears as Jobcentre staff could go on strike

Wales on Line reports.

A union says staff do not feel safe during the pandemic

Most Jobcentre workers do not feel safe going into offices after they fully reopened last week, a union has said as it warned of industrial action over the issue.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said a survey of more than 1,000 of its members found around three in five feel unsafe, while another one in five are unsure about their safety because of continuing fears about the virus.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These results reflect the anger and frustration our members feel every day. Thousands of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff have been providing support to claimants safely from home throughout the pandemic.

“The only logical reason they would insist on fully reopening is because management’s obsession with sanctioning vulnerable claimants.

“These stats show how staff feel and should send a strong signal to ministers that they need to urgently meet with the union to avoid potential industrial action.”

Then there is this story:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2021 at 5:31 pm

New Resolution Foundation Report Blasts Universal Credit.

with 81 comments

 

Image result for universal credit resolution foundation long and winding road

New Reports Slams  Universal Credit.

 

The long and winding road

The introduction and impact of Universal Credit in Liverpool City Region and the UK

Key findings

  • UC is a bigger deal in some parts of the country than others. 205,000 working-age families in LCR (31 per cent of the total) are expected to receive UC once it is fully rolled out, compared to 775,000 working-age families in the whole of the North West (27 per cent), and 6.2 million families in the UK as a whole (24 per cent of the total).
  • Focusing on UC’s effect on incomes compared to the legacy benefits system it replaces, we find that more families lose from the switch to UC – and fewer gain – in LCR than the UK as a whole. 52 per cent of benefit-recipient families in LCR lose out from the switch to UC, while only 32 per cent gain. The respective figures for the UK as a whole are 46 per cent and 39 per cent.
  • While those with IT skills valued UC’s digital focus, many said that the five-week wait for the first payment put them under significant financial and mental stress. Some reported that the wait had forced them to use food banks, and worsened existing mental health issues.
  • The interviews revealed a variable understanding among recipients of exactly how taking on more work would affect their incomes. Most understood they would be better off in work, but many felt that the system’s responsiveness to their earnings meant that taking on more hours wasn’t worth their while financially. This, says the Foundation, risks weakening one of the central claims of UC, that it will ‘make work pay’.

The  PCS union has responded.

The report entitled the Long and Winding Road explored regional differences in the roll-out of Universal Credit which has been plagued by problems.

2.7 million people are thought to be on Universal Credit and due to the complex system, depending on where claimants live, people are worse off in some areas than others.

Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “Universal Credit has made life miserable for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

He called on ministers to heed warnings, adding that they need to, “implement reforms to make our welfare system more humane.”

But PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said the system needed to be scrapped and replaced.

He said: “Universal Credit is a disaster for claimants and needs to be scrapped in favour of a more humane system.

“At the moment claimants face immense hardships and barriers accessing UC, causing them to fall into debt homeless and in some cases, even contemplate taking their own lives.

“Our members are passionate about helping those in need and do their utmost under the circumstances. However, they cannot make a system work that is fundamentally hurting those it is supposed to help.”

More media coverage.

24 Housing.  Bill Tanner

Report says varying Universal Credit impact UK-wide is being ignored

The very different impact of Universal Credit (UC) across the country is being ignored amid debates about how to level up economic outcomes UK wide, a new report warns.

Already, a metro mayor says its time the government listened to such “frontline warnings” and implement improvements to make UC more humane

Released by the Resolution Foundation, The long and winding road notes that the new parliament will be a critical period for  the UC roll-out, with two-thirds per of the six million families who will eventually be on UC moving across during this session.

The final – and most challenging – phase of the roll-out, involving the transfer of existing benefit and tax credit claimants onto UC, is also due to start later this year.

The Foundation notes that following welcome reforms, including the recent £1,000 boost to work allowances, the benefit is set to be slightly more generous than the legacy system it is replacing (as long as take-up gains are achieved), with families receiving £1 a week more an average.

However, this marginal average figure masks sizable groups of families that gain and lose out by large sums, and significant geographical variation across the UK.

Thanks to factors such as local rent and earnings levels, and the characteristics of local populations, some parts of the country will be left significantly worse off as the switch to UC goes ahead.

Laura Gardiner, Research Director, Resolution Foundation, said those recent reforms hid a complex mix of winners and losers, with families in some areas of the UK faring particularly badly.

“As well as making reforms at a national level – such as helping families to overcome the first payment hurdle and offering more flexibility for those with childcare – policy makers across the country need to better understand the effect Universal Credit will have in different places.

“That understanding should be central to policy debates that are rightly focusing on what can be done to close economic gaps between parts of the UK,” she said.

The report references the Liverpool City Region (LCR) – one of the areas that has experienced the biggest UC roll-out so far, and in which a higher proportion of working-age families will end up on UC than across the country 31% compared to 24% – where just 32% of families will be better off under UC, compared to 52% who will be worse off.

This compares to a national average of 46% losing out, and 39% gaining.

The article continues,

The report identifies the difference as largely driven by LCR having a relatively high proportion of single parents, out-of-work single people and disabled people, all of whom fare badly under UC.

In addition, UC’s greater generosity towards working families with high rents has less impact in LCR, which has below-average rent levels.

To help understand the localised impact of the transition to UC, the Foundation carried out in-depth interviews in LCR, focusing on recipients’ experiences of various aspects of the new system. These interviews uncovered a number of areas where further improvements are needed.

While those with IT skills valued UC’s digital focus, many said that the five-week wait for the first payment put them under significant financial and mental stress. Some reported that the wait had forced them to use food banks, and worsened existing mental health issues.

Other reported problems with the childcare element of UC – despite it being more generous than tax credits – with one single parent explaining how paying childcare costs up front was hard, and that reimbursements could be withheld if they forgot to obtain receipts on time.

The interviews revealed a variable understanding among recipients of exactly how taking on more work would affect their incomes.

Most understood they would be better off in work, but many felt that the system’s responsiveness to their earnings meant that taking on more hours wasn’t worth their while financially.

This, says the Foundation, risks weakening one of the central claims of UC, that it will ‘make work pay’.

Steve Rotheram, LCR Metro Mayor, said it was time the government listened to “frontline warnings” and implement serious reforms to make UC more humane.

“Rather than penalising people for finding work and forcing them into crisis with the five week wait for a first payment, it should be reformed to offer a genuine safety net to struggling people,” he said.

The Foundation says that now is the time for the government to make vital improvements.

These improvements, stressed as needing to top be national, should include:

  • Helping families overcome the first payment hurdle – the government should increase the proportion of new claims paid on time and in full; help families overcome the first payment hurdle by testing approaches like an interim payment for certain groups and backdating the start of claims; and carry the financial risk from late payments.
  • Ensuring UC fits better with the lives of those who need it – in particular, reforms are needed to make the generous childcare support in UC more flexible and easier to navigate.
  • Making UC more female-friendly – boosting work allowances for single parents and second-earners would boost their work incentives and increase household incomes.

The Foundation adds that policy makers in Whitehall, and, crucially, across the UK, need to consider the impact of UC at a local level.

At exactly the time that policy debates are rightly focusing on what can be done to close economic gaps between parts of the UK, the reform will be rolled out with very different impacts on those places, the Foundation says.

S, 

Data shows areas with high numbers of unemployed and disabled will be worse off, says thinktank.

Therese Coffey is still on a high…

This is an example of Universal Credit “works”.

Universal Credit Staff to Strike.

with 107 comments

Image result for pcs universal credit strike

 

DWP Universal Credit staff to strike next week after ‘running out of patience’

The Mirror.

Universal Credit call handlers will stage a two-day strike next week after “running out of patience” with what they say are cuts and overwork.

More than 200 workers are set to stage a walkout at a contact centre in Stockport, Greater Manchester, next Tuesday and Wednesday after approving the action in a strike ballot.

Some 227 Public Commercial Services union (PCS) members at the centre were balloted. 162 voted, of which 148 backed a strike.

It comes after two walkouts at centres in Wolverhampton and Walsall earlier this year over similar issues.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The decision to take strike action has not been taken lightly by our members in Universal Credit. They do their best to help claimants get the support they need.

The Guardian,

Workers at a centre dealing with universal credit are to stage a two-day strike in a row over workloads and staffing levels, the Press Association reports. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at the office in Stockport, Greater Manchester, will walk out from August 27. More than 200 UC staff in Stockport will go on strike for two days next Tuesday in a row over workloads and staffing levels. The union said staffing at the centre has been in decline since the flagship benefit was introduced three years ago, but the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) said it is confident that staffing levels are sufficient, PA reports.

23 Aug 2019

PCS members fighting to improve their Universal Credit service centre are striking for 2 days next week.

In a ballot declared earlier this month, members voted 91.9% in favour of strike action and 95% in favour of action short of strike on a 71.4% turnout. Our members will be taking strike action next week, on Tuesday (27) and Wednesday (28), with a demand for extra staff to be recruited and for working practices to be changed to allow them to process the cases of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Staffing at the Universal Credit Service Centre, Millennium House in Stockport has been in decline since its introduction in 2016/17. Despite existing staff being switched to UC to support hard-pressed members and further staff from the remaining legacy command incoming in September, PCS members are clear this is not going to tackle the problem of increasing workloads and the demands placed upon staff.

PCS is equally clear that action is needed to make important changes for members and this is reflected in the support in the ballot. Case managers have seen their caseloads increase week by week. The volume of telephone calls has gone up in line with those caseloads and members are now expected to be working on several claims at the same time. Stress-related absences are higher on the UC command compared to the legacy commands.

PCS demands the DWP:

  • Recruits 100 new staff members
  • Limits calls to 30 a week for case managers
  • Increases the one minute time allowed for after-call work
  • Allocates time for case work to be completed
  • Ends the attack on flexi
  • Ends the unnecessary restrictions on breaks and lunches
  • Ends the victimisation of a local PCS representative and a PCS member and the dropping of cases against them.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

Universal Credit Staff in Two Day Strike.

with 64 comments

Image result for universal credit strike PCS

PCS Strike in Universal Credit Service Centres.

At a meeting held by the Trades Council some months ago we heard a speaker from the PCS tell us about the many faults of Unviersal cerdit.

He also underlined that many people employed by the DWP were unhappy at their working conditions and pay.

The number of phone calls they had to take was a particular gripe.

There had been walk outs.

Now there is an official strike.

Today:

Universal credit staff to launch two-day strike over workload and low recruitment

The Independent reports:

Union boss says members cannot stand by while ministers make their job ‘impossible’

Staff at two sites dealing with the universal credit benefits system will launch a two-day strike on Tuesday in a dispute over workloads and staff recruitment.

It will be the second stoppage by members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union at Wolverhampton and Walsall.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members who work to support some of the most vulnerable members of society will not put up with DWP management ignoring their real concerns over staffing and underinvestment

“This strike will be part of sustained campaign of action which could spread to other parts of universal credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiators to discuss workers’ concerns.

“Our members care passionately about the work they do and the people they support.”

He added: “However, they cannot stand idly by while ministers make the job of supporting claimants impossible.”

PCS members are demanding the recruitment of 5,000 more staff, permanent contracts for fixed-term employees and a limit to the number of phone calls required per case manager.

Here is the Union statement:

PCS members in the UC Service Centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton will take two more days strike action on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 May, in their campaign for more staff and improved working conditions

Despite two well supported days of action in March, which had a knock-on effect across the whole UC network, the DWP has refused to meet the demands of members.

A recent announcement that Wolverhampton will become a national telephony site has further inflamed the situation. DWP management have also refused PCS’s request to make staff on fixed term appointments permanent, review the decision on Wolverhampton and properly engage with PCS about improving the staffing situation in Universal Credit.

The 5 key demands from PCS members working in UC are:

  • 5,000 new staff, permanency for fixed term staff
  • Limit the number of phone calls per case manager
  • Limit the size of the national telephony hub
  • Improve consultation
  • A quality-focused approach – no more management by statistics.

Action may spread

PCS has held members’ meetings in other UC Service Centres, and members in affected jobcentres are also being consulted.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members who work to support some of the most vulnerable members of society will not put up with DWP management ignoring their real concerns over staffing and under investment.

“This strike will be part of sustained campaign of action which could spread to other parts of Universal Credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiators to discuss workers’ concerns.

“Our members care passionately about the work they do and the people they support. However, they cannot stand idly by while ministers make the job of supporting claimants impossible.”

PCS full-time official Ian Bartholomew said: “Unless DWP takes action to increase staffing in UC, and reduce the pressure that our members are working under, it is likely that we will see more sites calling for strike action.”

Please send messages of support to leeds@pcs.org.uk

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm