Thursday, 5 December 2013

PCS undermines it's own members

The decision of the Government to introduce a sanctions regime for those it deems are not seeking employment has caused some controversy which the General Secretary of the PCS union, Mark Serwotka took a decision to respond to. A press release states

PCS further notes that DWP staff have been set ‘expectations’ about the number of sanctions they should issue, despite ministerial denials that there are targets. 
Staff are required to do this under threat of disciplinary action through poor performance procedures if they are not seen to be meeting the ‘expectations’ set by DWP management.
Mark Serwotka then adds:

Today’s sanctions statistics show a shocking rise in the numbers being penalised, resulting in severe and dehumanising hardship for claimants and their families. The new sanctions regime damages the relationship between Jobcentre advisers and claimants, and is entirely counterproductive in helping people to find work.

I responded as a PCS Branch Secretary to Serwotka by reminding him that:

 It's actually quite easy to avoid being sanctioned. All a claimant has to do is:

·         Turn up on time to appointments
·         Attend Appointments
·         Produce evidence of Job search (which at the moment is just 6 examples on an ES4JP per                   fortnight)
·         Attend training courses/interviews as arranged by the Job centre staff.

Most people do that, but there are a large number of individuals who are constantly late, fail to turn up for appointments and make no effort at all not just to look for work but to comply with the very simple requirements that keep their benefit in payment.

It's not rocket science and we as a union have to remember the extra work this involves on the part of our members.

At the same time the Socialist Party newspaper reported a violent incident effecting PCS members in Lincoln Job Centre. One of their members, Nick Parker says:

"Front-line job centre staff do a vital job to provide a helping hand to benefit claimants who find themselves out of a job to get them back on their feet and into work. Staff are doing this on deteriorating rates of pay and with increasing workloads. They have a right to be able to go about their daily working lives without the threat of being attacked or abused by a small minority of people whom they serve.

That's the key, a "small minority". It always has been. 

Yet the left remains hostile to PCS members as this weeks Weekly Worker illustrates. One correspondent "Jo Russell" muses:

Mark Serwotka makes the point that “The government’s perverse and punitive approach is a collective punishment on the unemployed and disabled.” The PCS, then, is fully aware of the role of its members in delivering this barbaric system.

This is then compounded by the cry of "scabs" by Mark Wood on the same page:

whilst PCS members continue to administer programmes which are hitting the unemployed and the sick, it is like asking a scab to lead a strike.

PCS members are Civil Servants who have a clear (and constitutional) role to implement Government policies regardless of their origin. The UK remains a democracy and Governments change. Civil servants have a duty whilst conducting their duties to be political neutral. 

PCS is a trade union that exists to represent it's members and is an insurance policy for those who pay subscriptions. It is not (and shouldn't be) a political party though is fast turning into one under Serwotka and his useless menagerie of Trotskyist supporters.

The leadership of PCS must defend their members first and foremost. 

Too often they forget this.

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