PCS TRADE UNION BOLTON

VITALLY IMPORTANT: ALL MEMBERS (ESPECIALLY NEW MEMBERS):
READ THIS DOCUMENT BEFORE YOU USE A DWP COMPUTER.

One of the most distressing types of personal case that we may have to represent a member on is computer misuse. It is vitally important that every member of staff realises that every key entry on a DWP system is recorded for security pruposes and if you misbehave, it may be used against you. Certain computer records are fallged with a relationship to staff and if you access one that you shouldn't, then you WILL get caught.

We are trusted with sensitive customer information and the penalties for misusing the system are very severe. Accessing friends computer records and your own records counts as serious misconduct and may lead to dismissal and even to criminal prosection.

You can get a copy of your own record via a Freedom of information request if you need it.
You are not allowed to access benefits records without a valid business reason and supporting tasks or post.
There is little or no argument or defence can be made against charges of unauthorised system access.

Help us to help you. DON'T DO GET YOURSELF SACKED.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE, ASK A MANAGER OR YOUR TU REP.


11 Oct 2019: Threat of action leads to dozens of new Universal Credit jobs

Dozens of new jobs have been secured following the threat of strike action by PCS members at Derby Universal Credit Service Centre who expressed anger at high workloads and their inability to provide a quality service for customers.

In August, local reps organised a meeting on the pavements outside the gates of their office to discuss the workload problems at the site after they were forbidden from using the office car park.  

The meeting addressed by PCS Midlands regional secretary, Andrew Lloyd heard members express their anger at the high workloads and not being able to provide a “quality service for the customers”. Faced with no other option members voted by show of hands in high number to support a call for industrial action, like colleagues at other UC sites.

PCS wrote to Derby UC management to request a meeting. At the meeting last month PCS put the case for more staff alongside the anger members had expressed. Management initially offered 40 additional posts to respond to the issue, then following a written request the number was increased to 56 additional posts. Reps held members’ meetings on site to announce the staffing increases.

The jobs, which will initially be fixed-term appointments for 12 months with a view to making them permanent have been advertised and staff are expected to be appointed by the end of the month.


PAY MEETING 25.9.2019

Join in!!

AN ARTICLE THAT YOU SHOULD MAYBE READ:
According to The Times, police officers will receive a 2.5% rise, while soldiers will see their pay go up by 2.9%. Teachers and other school staff are in line for a 2.75% hike, dentists and NHS consultants will get a 2.5% rise, all above the 1.9% consumer prices index measure of inflation. However the measure, which the prime minister is expected to confirm shortly before she leaves No.10 for the last time next Wednesday, is unlikely to include any extra cash for civil servants.

Officials are in line for an average 2% pay rise this year, according to Cabinet Office guidance published last month. The pay remit guidance gave departments the flexibility to award civil servants an average 1% pay rise on top of the average 1% budgeted for in the current Spending Review period, and The Times reports that senior civil servants' salaries will also go up by 2%.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said the announcement had "added fuel to the fire" as the union ballots its members for strike action over pay.

“It is outrageous that the vast majority of civil servants  who do some of the most important jobs in society, are once again being left behind on public sector pay," he said. He noted that existing departmental budgets have only set aside a 1% pay rise for many civil servants including those working in job centres, tax offices and the border force – although many agencies will follow the Cabinet Office guidance to top up this increase to 2%.

Serwotka said these public servants would "feel enraged that the government is refusing to reward its own staff properly".


2019 Conference report written by Mike Hepworth here.


Fighting for trans rights
22 May 2019

Fighting for trans rights, including improving awareness across PCS, needs to be carried out in an inclusive and comradely way, PCS conference agreed today (22).

It’s now up to PCS to ensure it stands firm in solidarity with trans, non-binary, gender fluid and intersex members and fight the slashing of services for everyone.

Proposing motion A20, Hywel Morgan of R&C South Wales said: “Any discussion of trans rights needs to begin with the reality of trans oppression.

“We are all aware of the debate that’s taken place on trans rights across the trade union movement.

“The trade union movement as a whole must take up trans rights as a central part of its equality agenda.

“We should encourage reps to attend trans awareness courses.

Solidarity needs to have substance

Alexis Russell from DWP South Humber said: “Over the course of the last 12 to 18 months and since the inauguration of a certain president, there’s been a significant move to the far-right across Europe.

“Things are getting quite scary for a person of difference.

“Solidarity needs to be sustainable and it needs to have substance. “

The motion, which was passed unanimously, instructed the NEC to push:

• For the improvements in trans awareness in the union to be done in an inclusive and comradely way.

• To encourage reps to attend the trans awareness training courses.

• For understanding that the potential welcome improvements to the Gender Recognition Act would only add to the legal rights that already exist to not be discriminated as a trans person and to access services

• For united campaigning against the slashing of much needed services in our communities including the latest offensive against refuge provision so that there are fully funded services available for all women fleeing violence.


PCS conference backs plans to raise subs to support the fighting fund
22 May 2019

As conference meets in Brighton this week PCS members working for Interserve, Aramark and ISS are striking, which highlights the need to have a well-supported fighting fund to support members taking sustained action.

Delegates praised the action taken by members, supported by the fighting funding, and as a result of motion A27 carried by conference this afternoon (22) our members’ subscriptions are to be increased by 50p a month from 1 June to raise ring-fenced funds for the PCS Fighting Fund to support members taking striking action.

Martin Cavanagh moved the motion on behalf of the NEC and said the move will see subs rise for all members except for those in unrecognised workplaces and those on reduced subscriptions.

“Since its inception the fighting fund has been an invaluable tool in supporting members taking sustained strike action. Our members have achieved notable victories because of the support of the fighting fund. But voluntary contributions have simply not worked in raising the amount of funds we need to support national industrial action,” he said.

“To take the fight to this government and our employers then we have to build a far bigger war chest to have at our disposal.”

The NEC agreed the plan following a consultation on the proposals which took place from December to January received 15,000 responses and involved 29 regional meetings of branch reps and 13 PCS groups.

Barbara Bolstridge, of DWP Wolverhampton and Walsall branch, whose members were supported by the fund when they held a 2-day strike in March, said the workers at DWP contact centres couldn’t have taken such well-supported action without the support of the fighting fund.

“The fighting fund made such a difference. I don’t think 50p is that much to pay considering the effect it may have,” she said.

The workers are striking again on Tuesday and Wednesday next week in their campaign for more staff and improved working conditions.

The motion was carried by conference on Wednesday (22) morning.


PCS needs to go everywhere to increase activity and participation
21 May 2019

To fight for fair pay and pensions we have to be prepared to build the union and to go everywhere to increase activity and participation and to recruit new advocates, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka told PCS conference.

In moving the annual report on Tuesday (21) afternoon Mark paid tribute to the work of PCS activists.

“We know our activists are the best in the union movement and fight every day in their workplaces for members. But to build our union we need to be prepared to go everywhere to encourage people to stand with us; increasing participation and diversity in our leadership is the key,” he said.

“We are debating the national ballot this week and what threats we face this week but PCS is winning every day. We currently have 15 disputes ongoing and we achieved a stunning recent victory in the Historic Royal Palaces and for security guards at the Palace of Westminster.”

Mark also paid tribute to the strikers currently on strike in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and how the sight of a foodbank at BEIS HQ was reminiscent of the 1984 miners' strike.

“In many ways so much has changed but in many ways nothing changes and employers are still exploiting workers and we are still fighting for justice for our members,” he said.

Fighting for pensions

Mark highlighted the fact that all civil service members should all have had a 2% increase in their pay packet due to 4 years of overpayment into their pensions, but parliament decided to continue to make civil servants overpay.

Campaign for a socialist government

Austerity determines the everyday lives of millions of people, Mark told conference. And he said: “We must do all we can to ensure the election of a socialist government that opposes austerity and pledges to give trade unions their legal rights back and ensure we have a fair and equal society. And not divide people on whether they voted to remain or leave.”

Mark said that at a time when the far right is on the rise, we need to say we are for the freedom of the movement of all people, recognising the work migrants do and for the cultural enrichment they bring. He said it is 900 days since his lifesaving heart transplant and he owes his life to the staff from across the world and the UK who cared for him in the NHS – “one of the greatest creations of the British labour movement.”

Mark Serwotka also led conference in a massive round of applause as he noted that “this union was lucky to have had a president of such a calibre as Janice Godrich”. He also congratulated John Moloney on his election as PCS Assistant General Secretary, paid tribute to Chris Baugh, who served as AGS for over 14 years and sent his commiserations to Lynn Henderson, who he said would have made an excellent AGS and said “it was good to see a woman standing for election as a senior full-time officer”.


Canterbury Universal Credit Service Centre votes for action
08 Mar 2019

Members at meetings at Canterbury have voted overwhelmingly for strike action.

National union rep barred from entering building
The assistant secretary of the group executive committee (GEC) and national executive committee (NEC) member Dave Semple went to Canterbury service centre today, to discuss with members how national negotiations had been going. Management had instructed security not to permit Dave entry to the service centre, where he himself worked for several years, on advice from DWP Employee Relations.

This shows contempt for the concerns of staff, who should have been able to speak to the elected rep who negotiates on their behalf. Local managers said that it was because industrial action could not be spoken of on the premises, but were told in no uncertain terms that this would only be discussed off DWP premises. They did not budge.

Well attended meetings give clear mandate for action
More than 80 staff attended car park meetings and voted for action, with a handful voting against (several of whom said they would definitely vote in the ballot for action short of a strike) and a handful voting to abstain. This is a clear indication that members are deeply unhappy at the way they are being treated, and at the sheer number of calls from very unhappy claimants.

Members endorsed the five key GEC demands:
  • 5000 extra staff to deal with the existing caseloads in service centres
  • Written agreement with DWP and the union on consultation
  • Limiting case manager calls to thirty per week.
  • A written agreement preventing management by statistic
  • Limits to the size of the national telephony teams – no return to contact centre.

On that basis, the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of two days of strike action initially, with the option for two more, followed by a further members' meeting to discuss next steps.

DWP is not listening
Evidence suggests DWP is busy trying to encourage people to undermine the strike action planned for 11 and 12 March at Walsall and Wolverhampton. Locally at Wolverhampton, they have been telling case managers that if they break the strike, they will not have to take telephone calls on the strike days.Instead of trying to undermine a democratically agreed strike vote, managers should seriously consider the reasonable demands put by PCS.

More here


OFFICE CLOSURE PETITION

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION HERE


BECAUSE WE'RE WORTH IT... THE 2019 PAY CAMPAIGN

We want members to fill in our online form to volunteer to support our pay campaign and commit to doing one, several or all of the following:

  • Talking to other members about the campaign
  • Recruiting new members
  • Handing out leaflets at work
  • Taking part in an organised phone bank to help get the vote out
  • Attending a pay event.

We also need members to email civil service chief executive, John Manzoni, to tell him that you’ve been betrayed on pay.

Consultation 

More than 15,000 PCS branches, groups, equality forums and members took the opportunity to comment on the direction of our pay campaign in a pay consultation from December 2018 to early February 2019. 

A special meeting of our national executive committee took place in early February to consider the consultation and decided the next steps in our pay campaign, including:

  • Lodging a 10% pay claim
  • Holding an industrial action ballot from 18 March to 29 April to force the government to offer an above-inflation pay rise.

Permanent secretaries and the Cabinet Office betrayed their staff on pay last year by secretly agreeing to limit pay increases to 1-1.5%. Disgracefully they argued our members should get less money for their hard work than unions and employers in other parts of the public sector agreed in 2018. This was the shocking revelation from the court case taken by PCS and other civil service unions in October this year.

That move left civil service pay worse off than the rest of the public sector. 

That betrayal has been compounded in 2019 as John Manzoni, chief executive of the civil service, has told us that only 1% is on offer this year, unless civil servants agree to changes to their hard-won terms and conditions. This is a disgrace and we are determined to fight to achieve 

Join the fight for 10%

PCS is preparing for a huge fight to get our members a 10% pay rise and we want everyone to get involved.

We’re asking all members to vote yes in the postal ballot for industrial action and yes to action short of strike

For any potential ballot to be successful members in all workplaces need to get involved in our union to ensure we achieve a ballot turnout in excess of the 50% legal threshold imposed by the Tory government. 

The most important thing members can do is get involved. Every person who helps our union in any way means we’re in a better position to win the ballot and if we win the ballot we’re in a better position to get what members deserve – above-inflation pay rises.

We need volunteers to:

  • Phone other PCS members about the pay campaign
  • Arrange pay campaign events in their area
  • Hand out leaflets at work
  • Recruit a colleague to be a PCS member.

We also need members to:

Judicial review

Our judicial review into the government’s lack of consultation over the imposition of the Treasury pay remit, which we took along with the other civil service unions, disappointingly failed at the High Court. 

Disappointingly, the court held that there was not a clear and unambiguous representation that there would be consultation and the judicial review application failed. As a result, we are demanding a meeting with the government’s chief people officer, Rupert McNeil, to address matters arising from the judgement.

We urge all members to get involved in our campaign by:

Statutory ballot on industrial action over pay 18 June to 23 July, 2018.

PCS members delivered the highest yes vote and turnout in the history of our union. But undemocratic, anti-union strike laws, implemented last year, will prevent strike action.

The ballot will send a strong message to the government that PCS members want a pay rise. However, the new legal requirements mean that unions not only have to show majority support for a strike, but that 50% of those balloted have voted.

Our campaign has made our union stronger, with thousands of new members and hundreds of new reps and advocates. Our members still deserve a pay rise, so the pay campaign will not end with this disappointing result. Our national executive committee met on 24 July, and agreed the next steps in the pay campaign. These include:

  • writing to the Cabinet Office demanding urgent pay talks
  • supporting and coordinating delegated groups and branches in pay negotiations
  • fully supporting groups of members who wish to ballot for industrial action at delegated level.

We are determined to continue the campaign on pay this year; legally, through departmental talks and industrial action if necessary, and next year; through building our union so that we if we need to ballot for strike action we can be certain that we will beat the 50% threshold.

Conference agrees to hold ballot

On 22 May, delegates at our annual delegate conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of an emergency motion on pay calling for a statutory ballot of members on taking industrial action over pay, put forward by our national executive committee.

Pay claim

PCS made a 5% pay claim to the government but the Cabinet Office responded to say that it has only budgeted for a 1% pay rise for the UK civil service and related areas. This is despite other public sectors receiving higher offers.

PCS will continue to press for constructive talks to try to overturn the decision and secure a better pay offer for our members. In the event of a yes vote in our ballot, we would not call strike action until the outcome of any talks is discussed.

Share your experiences

Some PCS members report that by the end of each month they face difficult choices between paying bills and putting food on the table. Let us know:

  • What have you have had to do to make ends meet?
  • If yours is a ‘just about managing’ family, what does that mean in reality?
  • What would an inflation-busting pay rise mean for you?
  • Email your stories to editor@pcs.org.uk

Get involved in the pay campaign

 

More details at https://www.pcs.org.uk/payup


 

AGM

Older Branch news items

PCS
The DWP Bolton & Bury Branch of PCS has over 600 members, based at Bolton Benefit Centre and 4 local JobCentres (and this figure is rising in the face of the staffing cuts, AA redundancies, the victimisation of members and reps by our particularly bad managers and the Government's attacks on DWP staff pay and conditions).

The Bolton Benefit Centre was the very first in the country to take claims for the controversial Universal Credit, which replaces the conventional DWP benefits and is currently the cause of much concern for the staff on the Bolton site and for the Tory Government.

Bolton DWP has a particularly bad reputation within DWP as 'a problem office' and to have an entirely different management style to the majority of the rest of DWP. Members (and Reps) on this site need protection from this bizarre and harsh management style and Trade Union membership is key in defending job security. Issues such as 'Must Improve' performance markings being given to members who have not deserved them are regular tasks for our reps to deal with and we have a pretty good success rate in overturning them because management do not seem to be able to read or follow DWP procedures properly.

PCS is a democratic organisation, run by our members, for our members. We campaign for fair pay and conditions, decent pensions for all and equality in the workplace and beyond. If you're not a member of PCS, there's never been a better time to join the union.


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