The group executive committee of the PCS civil service workers' union in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) met last week against the background of management attacks on terms and conditions.
PCS members in the DWP, and especially in Job Centre Plus, face increasing workloads as unemployment soars.
After years of closing job centres and sacking staff, management have recently been forced to recruit around 2,500 new workers each month.
However, under a 'new recruitment model' there is to be a ban on all new permanent posts below senior management and a ban on promotions for most grades below higher executive officers.
In future all new recruitment into administrative and executive posts are to be on fixed term contracts.
This is an attempt to exploit the recession and create a two‑tier workforce. It must also be seen in the context of the government's welfare reform bill, which proposes massive privatisation of job centre work.
The group executive – which also discussed pay – was unanimous in its rejection of the government's plans. It is clear that if there is no movement on either issue, activists should be demanding the union acts quickly.