PCS union members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will soon be offered an above inflation pay offer for the first time in years.
However, despite union objections, DWP management has made clear that any pay rise will be conditional on the introduction of 8am to 8pm and weekend working.
This is linked to the impending roll-out of the government’s flagship Universal Credit “reform”.
The union is committed to consulting members when any offer is put and wishes to hold a ballot after PCS conference in May. But it is being pressured by the DWP to do this more quickly.
The union must hold its nerve, as any potential deal will need wide debate.
Many members believe that they deserve the pay increase without changes to terms and conditions. Concerns have also been raised by the South East and North West DWP regional committees.
As the North West committee pointed out, “Some members consider that the principle of a Monday to Friday week should not be conceded whatever the financial offer.
“Some members are unable to work different hours and weekends due to caring and other commitments and some have organised their lives around the current working hours.
“Some reps also consider that these points should not be conceded at a time when the BMA have a high profile campaign which includes the issue of weekend working and imposed contractual changes for junior doctors.”
Once the negotiations are completed members will have to consider very carefully if sufficient safeguards have been obtained.
If the offer is not acceptable, the union will have to be prepared to launch a serious campaign of industrial action to defend working conditions and to secure a decent pay rise for all.
Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation presents a golden opportunity to fight over both pay for DWP staff and also against attacks on benefit claimants.
Dave Owens, PCS DWP group executive committee (pc)
Welsh museum workers strike to defend weekend pay
Workers at National Museum Wales struck over Easter in a fight to defend their weekend pay.
The PCS union members walked out as part of rolling strikes at museum sites across Wales.
Museum bosses want to scrap premiums for weekend working, which can make up to 15 percent of some workers’ take-home pay.
The PCS union says its lowest paid members could lose as much as £3,000 a year.
Meanwhile PCS members at National Museums Scotland called off a strike set to take place last weekend. They had been preparing to walk out in the first of six weekend strikes.
The workers have been in dispute for three years after bosses withdrew weekend working allowances for new staff. The PCS agreed to suspend the action after bosses promised to bring a new offer to talks this week.