Wednesday, 8 May 2013

From bums on seats to shoes on feet, a more light-hearted look around PCS

It's all gone a wee bit quiet today as the various political factions wait to see how well or badly they do when the results of the PCS National Election results are declared tomorrow and the SOCA Group Executive members await their fate at the extraordinary Politburo NEC meeting also due to be held tomorrow. So as we await some important outcomes I thought it might be worth having a look at two motions being discussed at the DWP and Home Office Group Conferences in just over a week or so.

The first motion is from DWP South London Branch and was written by PFL* scribe "Barabbas". It takes a serious issue of the fact that DWP delegates alone will not get "official time" to attend either DWP or National Conference and challenges the incumbents over their handling of the whole issue. In doing so "Barabbas" uses some choice phrases not normally seen in the usually rather dry formulations of the political activist class that dominates PCS and in particular, the DWP.

Conference. Look around you at the empty seats usually filled by the plump bottoms of middle aged delegates and the less rotund ones of younger delegates. Have they all been sacked? Have they all retired? No! Conference, they are not here because the GEC failed to negotiate paid time off for them to attend. For many, their annual leave entitlement is already allocated to family commitments, looking after kids or grandkids in school holidays, or assisting disabled relatives. For some of the lowest paid, reliant on Tax Credits, asking them to take unpaid leave is an ask too far. 

The GEC assured us that the agreement to time off for reps was safe until 31st May. This has proved not to be the case. For an issue as central to Group policy as this, it brings into focus whether or not the GEC is capable of running a Whelk Stall, let alone negotiations for the largest government Department. We have been represented by probably under-qualified negotiators, out-manoeuvred by slick government spin doctors and apparatchiks for too long which has allowed situations such as this to happen.

Our negotiators must be trained to industry standard and the incoming GEC is instructed to ensure our negotiators are thus trained. The refusal of paid time off to attend Conference has created a dangerous precedent. The Government has picked off the biggest Department, seemingly without demur. Unpaid time off to attend Conference for all Departments will likely henceforth become de rigueur, subject of course to that other Departmental cri de Coeur, “business needs”. 

The outgoing GEC must take responsibility for this debacle and offer an explanation, to be agreed by Conference. If not offered or agreed, the outgoing GEC must be censured for failure to carry out their duties as elected. Such censure for failing to adequately carry out their duties will be circulated to all DWP members within one calendar month of close of Conference via a statement on the PCS website and Branch Circular. 

Conference instructs the incoming GEC to reverse this situation by proper negotiation using properly trained negotiators, involving ACAS if necessary. Progress to be reported back to all members within 3 calendar months of the close of Conference and again at 6 months via a statement on the PCS website and Branch Circular. The negotiators must be named and their qualifications as negotiators listed. 

If progress by the 6th month stage has proved unfruitful, Conference instructs that the GEC should consider a members ballot on industrial action which should include withdrawal of goodwill and an overtime ban.

I urge delegates to support motion A103!

Not to be outdone the question of Shoe Allowances has become a matter of some concern for Croydon Home Office Branch who have submitted this wonderful motion (A28) to their Group bash:

This conference notes HO/MB/132/12 entitled: The Removal of the Shoe Allowance Etc (or There‘s no business like shoe business).

Conference believes that the use of punning in MBs has now gone too far. The demise of the Shoe Allowance is no time for such hilarious tomfoolery, and that such punning must end.
There are a number of serious issues involved here however first and foremost is why is it called a Shoe Allowance‘? Most of out members have a proclivity to the wearing of more than one shoe, yet it is not a ‗Shoes Allowance‘. Is this merely an allowance for uni-peds in the department, or for those members who select to hop to, from and around work? This basic issue was not addressed in the MB as the authors were obviously distracted by the clever punning.

Therefore conference agrees that PCS must drive a stiletto into the heart of management on the issue of the Shoe Allowance. Further advice must be provided to our member by those qualified to do so, these trainers will deliver guidance on the ‗Shoe Allowance‘ to our members, and this guidance must be delivered in plain English and not some form of brogue.

This is the sole issue for some of our members and management must be brought to heel. The policy as it stands is cobblers and PCS needs to lace together the various strands to create a sensible way forward and give it some welly. This may set tongues wagging but we must put our foot down.

Conference therefore instructs the GEC to notify the authors of said MB that they are in danger of receiving the boot as they are clearly loafers, and as such will not be allowed any further platform.

I also urge delegates to vote for this motion as well.

*While we are not on the subject of the long-standing satirical PFLCPSA website (for outsiders think a PCS version of Private Eye) it has been banned from being accessed from DWP computers I discovered yesterday as it contains "tasteless and offensive material", which err.. is exactly what it always has been. I'll leave it to "Judas" and "Barabbas" to explain to perplexed readers in their next edition.

Their website can be found 'ere as usual. Tell 'em "Howie" sent you!

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