Socialist Worker

Call centre workers left hanging by bosses

by Dave Owens, PCS DWP group executive committee (pc)
Issue No. 2254

Call centre workers in Jobcentre Plus are set to take further strikes over working conditions after an important union meeting last week.

Their PCS union’s group executive committee in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) met days after the end of PCS national conference.

The long-running dispute has seen three days of strikes.

But management has failed to respond to an Acas conciliation service offer of talks. It looked unlikely that they would do so.

The union has not received a response from DWP secretary Robert Devereux to a letter it sent last week.

The meeting agreed that if a positive response was not received by Tuesday of this week the union will look to call a further round of strikes. These will take place before planned national action on 30 June.

The dispute has big implications for the civil service. The group executive will seek to escalate the dispute across call centres in all government departments.

The government also plans to close 17 benefit processing sites and five call centres.

Members’ meetings are to be held on these sites. A meeting will be sought with ministers to argue for reversing the decision.

Management have said they will try to redeploy staff but cannot guarantee that this would be within normal mobility rules. In some locations the only alternative work will be miles away.

It is also clear that only one redeployment offer will be made. In most cases this will be into the call centres where the PCS is already in dispute and where management have great difficulty in retaining staff because of oppressive working conditions.

A separate ballot for strikes will not be required as the dispute will be covered by the terms of the national ballot currently taking place.

It is important that these issues are taken forward as they can build the mood for the planned action on

30 June rather than, as some have argued, detract from it.

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Article information

Tue 31 May 2011, 18:33 BST
Issue No. 2254
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