Reps in branches will be aware that members face another crackdown through the people performance procedures, the latest version of the hated PDS which was the result of a national dispute in DWP. Hundreds, if not thousands, of members have been put on so-called Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). These lead to oral and written warnings and eventually dismissal or demotion. Unlike the attendance management procedures, which have seen thousands of our members dismissed, the people performance procedures can see members sacked once they are moved into formal action theoretically within 8 weeks. We are aware of cases where the whole membership in a jobcentre will be put on PIPs simply because the office is not meeting its targets. In one District in London 70% of HEOs are on PIPs and have been instructed to put their staff on PIPs.
Of course as a Union we need to do everything we can to defend members through personal cases, grievances etc. And of course we need to ensure that our reps are fully briefed on the procedures so that they can deal with these cases. We also need to ensure that comprehensive guidance is issued to members and reps. But we also need to understand the collective nature of attack. Just like attendance management this is all about cutting jobs on the cheap. Therefore this attack needs to be subject to a dispute. We should include demands around attendance management and people performance as part of any action we may have in the Group.
For example we could include demands around increasing the consideration point, disregarding all disability related sickness for the purpose of warnings and scrapping the backsliding rules.
Our living standards have been eroded over a number of years now with pay failing to keep pace with prices, which have risen by 22.6% since 2005. Of course this is going to get worse with the coalition’s policy of restricting increases in the public sector to 1% for the next two years. This gives us another opportunity to build our own coalition of the willing. We should seek to make cause with as many other public sector Unions that are prepared to have a fight over pay.
We also need to submit a pay claim in DWP that seriously addresses the steep decline in members’ living standards.