Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Strike

Universal Credit Staff to Strike.

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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 Call-Handlers Voting on Strike.

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Universal Credit call handlers will vote on whether to hold a major strike after being treated with “contempt”.

The Mirror reported this a few days ago.

It follows numerous articles on the PCS site, and – in person – a speech from a PCS representative in Ipswich which outlined the problems.

Up to 295 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agents in Wolverhampton and Walsall are poised to walk out for two days in a row over heavy workloads.

The PCS union says the system is crippled by “severe under investment, staff shortages and criticism from claimants on how they are treated”.

Chiefs are demanding 5,000 new staff, full contracts for fixed-term workers, an end to “management by statistics” and a limit on the number of phone calls each case manager has to handle.

It comes after top Tories heaped praise on rank-and-file staff in their defence of the six-in-one social security shake-up.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the strike ballot – which runs to February 25 – must be a “wake-up call” to ministers.

Civil Service World gives a more extensive report,

Written by Richard Johnstone on 13 February 2019 in News

Union sets out five demands to cut workload of staff at Universal Credit service centres in Wolverhampton and Walsall

The ballot could lead to two days of strike action next month at the Wolverhampton and Walsall service centres, with up to 295 staff being balloted for both strike action and action short of a strike.

The union said that the rollout of the government’s flagship welfare reform, which will merge six existing working-age benefits into one payment, has made some DWP staff’s workloads unmanageable.

PCS has made five demands of DWP to ease the pressure. These include hiring 5,000 new staff nationwide and permanent contracts for fixed term staff to increase capacity as more people transition onto the new benefit system. It also wants the department to limit the number of phone calls per case manager, commit to service centres rather than contact centres, improve staff consultation, and a implement quality-focused working environment, with an end to management by statistics.

The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “The possibility of a strike by Universal Credit staff should serve as a wake up call to ministers who have repeatedly insisted Universal Credit is working well for workers and claimants when the opposite is in fact the case.

“Our members have not taken the decision to ballot lightly but the responsibility for the breakdown in industrial relations lies squarely with the government, who want to run this service into the ground while treating staff with contempt.”

The ballot will close on 25 February.

(we will be watching for like ‘awks…)

Responding to the announcement, a DWP spokesperson said the department was determined to give all employees, including those delivering Universal Credit, the necessary resources to carry out their roles successfully, including manageable workloads.

The size of a case manager’s workload depends on a number of factors, including their experience and the complexity of the caseload, they added.

“We are disappointed that PCS has chosen to take this course of action and planned meetings with the union are ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

“Our top priority remains assessing and making payments to customers. We are comfortable with current staffing levels and will monitor and reallocate resource where necessary.”

In the meantime the misery of Universal Credit continues,

Controversial changes to the benefits system are leaving Welsh councils with hidden costs, it has been claimed.

BBC.

Universal credit aims to make claiming simpler by combining several benefits.

But 16 of Wales’ 22 councils said the UK government is not covering the full cost of assisting claimants, including teaching IT skills needed to apply.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said councils can apply for reimbursement of additional costs, but councils denied that was the case.

The body representing councils, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), and Welsh local government minister Julie James said the rollout of the benefit was not working.

Universal credit has to be applied for online, and will eventually replace housing benefit, income support and other payments.

At the moment councils can reclaim some money for each person they help who needs support with digital skills and budgeting to cope with the new system.

Wales’ 22 councils estimated the total bill for providing that help was more than £1.2m last year – even after claiming payments from the DWP.

Protest:

Universal Credit protest banner leads to ‘offensive weapons’ argument before meeting

Teeside Live.

A small group of Labour supporters hung a banner over the balcony before Redcar and Cleveland’s Borough Council meeting.

February’s meeting of Redcar and Cleveland’s Borough Council went on for more than three hours – and didn’t even cover its agenda.

Heated argument over protest

Even before councillors had taken their seats, there was a heated exchange in the public gallery.

A small group of Labour supporters had hung a Labour Party banner over the balcony which read “STOP UNIVERSAL CREDIT”.

But, with the banner secured to the balcony with rope weighted down on one side by a hammer tied and a chisel on the other, one member of the public took objection to the display.

“Get rid of these offensive weapons – they’ve been put here by the Labour Party,” he said.

“We have a right to protest,” said one of the protesters.

“Not with offensive weapons you don’t,” objected the man.

In the end, an officer solved the problem by removing the tools and securing the ropes with tape.

Universal Credit should be rolled back says council leader

In her opening address, council leader Cllr Sue Jeffrey, once again called for the controversial roll-out of Universal Credit should be postponed.

But because it takes five weeks to receive a payment after making a claim, hundreds of families in Redcar and Cleveland were left facing a Christmas with no money.

She said: “As you know, despite our pleas to the Government, on November 28 Universal Credit full service was rolled out in the borough of Redcar and Cleveland which meant claimants were going to be dealing with new claims over the Christmas period.”

She said the DWP hadn’t yet provided figures of how many people had made new claims for Universal Credit over Christmas but added that the council’s own records suggested around 2,100.

She said there had been an 80% increase in requests for personal budgeting support and 52 residents who approached the council for help with the new online system.

Picture of Offensive Weapon:

Image result for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council meeting universal credit

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2019 at 11:32 am

Back the Strikers and Fight for the Rights of the Unemployed!

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This is what we are all up against:

DWP accused of ‘black propaganda’ in universal credit debate

Jon Land from here.

DWP accused of 'black propaganda' in universal credit debate

DWP accused of ‘black propaganda’ in universal credit debate

Glenda Jackson has attacked the Department of Work and Pensions for embarking on a programme of “black propaganda” in a deliberate attempt to undermine the UK’s benefits system.

During a universal credit debate in the House of Commons, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn accused Iain Duncan Smith’s department of a “bunker mentality” adding that “simple humility is not part and parcel of its make-up”.

Jackson was responding to the news that civil service chief Sir Bob Kerslake had informed the Public Accounts Committee that the business case for universal credit had still not been signed off by the Treasury, despite an assurance from DWP minister Esther McVey that it had.

Glenda Jackson said: “I would hope every member of this House, would be shocked to realise that the DWP is still not giving the right answers — it is ludicrous to expect the right answer to come from the Department of Work and Pensions, as simple humility is not part and parcel of its make-up.

“The committees and government departments that scrutinise where public money goes are being pushed to one side. I have already referred to the bunker mentality of the DWP, and the example that my right hon. Friend gives me is just par for the course; it happens constantly.

“Arguments are not even being put up. We are all being told, ‘Oh no, it’s none of your business; it’s our business’. There is a pattern, which I find very disturbing. I have already touched on the issue of disregarding any serious questioning on costs. Ever since this major benefit change came into being, the Department has employed what I would call a programme of black propaganda, and every single one of the red tops has taken it up with glee and run with it.

“That black propaganda told the people of this country — I am paraphrasing; the DWP would never be this cogent — that everyone who was claiming benefits was doing so because they were too lazy to work. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have already touched on the agonies that are being endured by people with serious mental and physical disabilities, and the pattern is ongoing.

“A report from the Office for National Statistics last week scrutinised the level of complaints made against all the government departments about the misuse of statistics, and guess which one came top of the list! It was the Department for Work and Pensions. Throughout the time I have been a member of the select committee, we have raised again and again the issue of the misuse of stats and the misuse of the English language to proselytise this black propaganda and to confuse and distort what should be central to the committee’s concerns—namely, the well-being of the people who require benefits, not because they are lazy or workshy, or even because there are no jobs, but because they should be supported by the people of this country, as they always have been.

“After the last debate on this issue, I was touched to receive a response from the people of this country. If there is a silver lining to the black cloud that is the DWP, it is that the majority of people in this country still believe that the welfare state should do what it was meant to do, which is to support people who, through no fault of their own, cannot maintain themselves without the support of the rest of us. That support is alive and well out there in the country. The one place where it is certainly dead is within the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Jobcentre Call Centre Workers Strike.

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Speaking ahead of Monday’s strike by 7,000 staff in Jobcentre Plus’s 37 call centres, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka says work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith should withdraw his “thoroughly disgraceful” description of the action as “Neanderthal-like” and apologise.

Mark Serwotka added: “He’s talking about some of the lowest paid in the civil service who are being forced to take action to improve the service they provide to some of the most vulnerable people in society, in the face of unacceptable working conditions and an obsession with computer driven targets.

“The truth is, staff are monitored every minute of the day. The computer dictates start and finish times and tells them when to go for a break, with staff hauled up if they are 40 seconds late back or go over the time allowed for a call. Toilet breaks are monitored and constantly questioned.

“These call centres are a vital lifeline for members of the public when they need to claim benefits, when they’re sick or disabled or need help getting back into work. Enquiries are often complicated and many callers are understandably desperate and upset – some of them have no one else to turn to.

Our members are not numbers, and neither are the unemployed, and they want to help people, but often they’re encouraged to just get the caller off the phone as quickly as possible and this can not be right.”

Here.

Thousands of Jobcentre staff are going on strike in a row over working conditions and management targets.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in 37 call centres are staging a 24-hour walk-out on Monday.

They have accused management of showing “little willingness” to try to resolve the dispute.

More Here.

Many of us will have problems with the Call Centres.

This strike shows that the staff and claimants have the same interests in fighting for a better service.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

Posted in DWP, Unemployment, Welfare State

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