Independent Left and Independent North West Contact Centre Candidates
No Pay rise for Box 3 performers
Members who have received a “must improve” marking on their report will not get a pay increase unless any formal poor performance action concludes and performance improves. This is unacceptable as, most members are aware, most “must improve” markings have not been issued because members are performing poorly. They have been issued because DWP dictate around 10% of staff receive box three under “guided distribution”
PCS should have argued that guided distribution produces perverse results and pointed to the Valuation Office where they are piloting scrapping it. This would not only produce fairer appraisals, but people would not be denied a pay rise because of arbitrary diktats.
PCS negotiators could have argued that the pay offer should be made to everyone and that performance system needs to be revised to remove the unfairness of guided distribution. They are recommending a pay rise that up to 10% of members will not be paid.
Both DWP and PCS argue that they have been successful in breaking the Government’s Pay Cap and getting extra money from the Treasury to fund pay rises, provided you are prepared to work evenings and Saturdays. This is not true. In 2018 DWP will close hundreds of jobcentres, some benefit centres and other sites when they renew the PRIME contract. The money saved by closing offices will be much more than the cost of this pay rise. No wonder DWP want to change the Mobility rules. They need more flexibility to move staff around when they close their offices. So travel further to work on a Saturday? This pay offer just gets better and better!
Where will the work be done?
DWP state that they need people to work Saturdays and evenings because people on Universal Credit will have to be engaged during those periods, as they will be working during the normal “working week”. Which DWP staff will engage them? From where? Online? On the phone? At a face to face interview in a job centre?
You would think that the answers to these questions would be important for a union considering a pay offer linked to a major change in the conditions of its members. Members are being asked to be prepared to change working patterns in the future with no indication of whether they actually will be involved in the work, where they will be doing it or when it will happen.
Who gains, who loses?
The DWP GEC have stated in their bulletin recommending the pay offer that 53% of AA staff, 59% of AO staff, 61% of EO staff and 71% of HEOs are not on the maximum salary, arguing that more people will gain from the pay offer than lose out. Those on the max will gain the least, as their pay rises will be less. What the GEC do not include is how many other staff are actually close to the maximum already and therefore also likely to gain less. Neither do we have figures on those members, who already have evening and weekend working included in their contract already. The GEC state this is “already over 20% of staff”.
Part Time Workers
Significantly neither DWP or PCS have explained how many staff are on part time contracts, which actually specify their hours. Part time working is something both the union and the employer set a lot by when displaying their equality credentials. Yet these people, mainly women and carers feel most threatened by the prospect of changing their working patterns. Understandably they may be reluctant to be prepared to change working patterns, more likely to opt out and therefore only receive 0.25% pay rise each year. And DWP intend to review their contracts anyway.
DWP are legally obliged to conduct an Equality Impact Assessment on any changes before they are implemented to ensure groups of workers are not disadvantaged. Where is it? What does it say?
37 Hour week for London?
From July 2016, all new entrants and staff transferring into DWP in London will have to work a 37 hour week. PCS national policy is to campaign for a 35 hour week for all, how can the union recommend a pay offer that increases the working week?
Existing members in London will not be effected, the GEC reassure us. Heard that one before? The new pension rules will mean only new staff pay extra, remember that one?
Safeguards and concessions?
It is difficult to see what the union has actually gained from negotiations that DWP was not already prepared to offer. PCS claim to have built in a number of “safeguards” to protect members moving on to new working patterns. These safeguards are no more than provision for discussion and consideration of personal circumstances when required. In other words, what an employer is legally required to do. For safeguards, please read “statutory obligation”.
In reality the money on offer is simply not enough for most members to contemplate working evenings or Saturdays, so is anything else on offer? Scrapping Appraisal? Get rid of sick absence spells? Increased trigger points? More support for members suffering long term medical conditions? No, nothing there.
For candidates opposed to the pay-deal, Vote Independent Left in DWP Group Executive elections:
DWP Group Elections
Tom Bishell, Charlie McDonald
Tom Bishell, Bev Laidlaw, Charlie McDonald, John Mahoney, Chris Marks, Rob Morton, Jenny Pollard, George Thompson.
Bulletin in pdf here please print and distribute.