PCS in DWP: Vote no to the employer deal!

Voting will start soon in DWP over the so-called employee deal. A far better and more accurate name would be the ‘employer’ deal for this is one of the most one sided deals (sic) towards the employer in recent PCS history.

Let’s start with the unbelievable claim made in a Left Unity leaflet at 2016 conference that the deal busts the Treasury’s pay cap.

Er no; the Treasury agreed the deal and they did so because the employer is getting more out of it than the employees. To bust the pay cap means you force the employer against its will by strike action or other means to give you more money than it wants to give; the key word here is ‘forced’. That is not the case in this instance. From all reports, DWP got everything it wanted and made no concessions what so ever to the union. The famous safe guards are DWP just saying it will obey the law; the monies on offer overall are not much more than 1% of pay budget per year; AAs and AOs are just getting a fraction over the minimum wage (mis-named as the living wage); many staff on the max are not getting 1%; box 3s are getting nothing and if you opt out, which many women (as the main careers) will have to, then you get 0.25% (hurrah for equality).

In return, DWP can make staff work a certain number of Saturdays (the union is literally selling the weekend) and liable for late working during what used to be the ‘normal’ (Monday to Friday to you and me) working week. This will greatly decrease its overtime bill and allow it to run Universal Credit in a more flexible way.

In a little commented upon provision (at least little commented on by the majority on the DWP GEC), the employer deal changes the mobility clause. We all know that the department intends to close many offices in the next years. The ‘new’ mobility clause allows them to more easily force staff to move even if this causes great hardship for careers (the double whammy to women). This reduces the need for redundancy pay outs (another saving for DWP).

So if it is so bad why are the majority on the GEC campaigning for a Yes vote, why is Mark Serwotka in favour of a Yes vote and a majority of the DWP conference in favour as well (albeit a narrow majority)?

Well there is desperation. The majority, the General Secretary, needs something they can claim as a victory or at least an achievement. Since coming to power over 10 years ago the DWP GEC majority and Mr Serwotka have not won one material lasting benefit for members. So they are desperate to show they make a difference; that it is worthwhile to be in PCS and more particularly to re-join the union.

Then there is fear.

They know that DWP will try and get individual staff members to sign up to the deal in the absence of an agreement with the union. They fear this; in fact they should have been prepared for this as in fact this allows a generalised campaign amongst the members and it delivers the one thing DWP really fears and that is chaos. Only a deal agreed by the union can deliver a uniform change in terms and conditions for all staff; individual sign up, particularly if there is a vigorous campaign by the union, will mean many staff, possibly a majority of staff not signing up. That means in many offices there will not be enough staff to work Saturdays, a majority of staff on the existing mobility clause. Such a mixture of terms and conditions allows the union to campaign for industrial action to get all staff onto a good deal, our deal, not the DWP’s one.

The IL stands implacably opposed to the employer deal; we believe that a union should never agree a bad deal even if there is little it can do in the here and now to oppose such a deal (we believe by the way there is plenty to do in the here and now to oppose the employer deal). By agreeing a bad deal the union actually ends up championing such a deal, mis-leading members as to the nature of the deal and policing the deal (attempting to quash dissents); it demoralises members and activists. So just vote NO.

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