Sunday, 15 May 2016

Opposition to DWP pay deal is growing

The recent Pay Deal agreed in the Department of Work & Pensions was recommended to members by all three trade unions, Prospect, the FDA and PCS. It's an incredibly divisive deal that sets members against each other by hiking up the award for those lower down the pay scale with a mere 1% for those at the top.

Whilst this may seem fair to some outsiders, what the deal does is allow the Department to cover it's tracks over the time it takes to progress up the pay scale at the expense of those who reached "Max" and adding insult to insult have not received pay rises at all some years and even when they did only got 1%.

The real backlash that appears to be rising is not over money, but the changes to hours and days worked.

In order to be eligible for the award (even the paltry 1%) members have to agree to new contracts forcing them to work evenings and at least one Saturday a month as part of the move over to Universal Credit, the Department's controversial (and many say failing) new benefit.

It's quite obvious from reaction both on the ground and in social media that a large proportion of members object to these changes with some indication that in the PCS at least there will be a strong vote against when the ballot takes place.

The agreement includes "safeguards" to "protect" those with medical problems an disabilities but in essence all that DWP Management actually agree to do is to follow the Equality Act which happens to be the law anyway.

The addition of a committee with "Independent" Managers (don't laugh) and a TU rep to oversee disputes does not exactly inspire confidence.

The DWP has shrunk it's staff at precisely the time it needs more to ensure a smooth changeover in the way it meets its so-called "business needs", leaving those still in place overworked and stressed with moral at an all time low.

The in-fighting in the largest of the civil service unions PCS (whose membership has shrunk considerably to just 175,000) continues unabated. Many former activists have pointed out that if this deal had been recommended by anyone else other than Left Unity themselves it would have been called a "right-wing sellout".

The problem for LU is there is no right-wing (mainstream in normal parlance) despite their trying to  make one up in their election literature.

The elections in the DWP remain to be announced and LU seem rattled by the advance of a rival hard left group in the NEC elections as the Independent Left take 3 NEC seats.

There is little likelihood that any kind of industrial dispute over the deal will take place or could be seriously considered due to the very nature of the divisive award itself. There are too many "winners" and many would see such action as futile.

However disquiet remains widespread at grassroots level which will not go away.

1 comment:

  1. A good piece Howie on a very sensitive subject. Changes also seem likely in other departments with contracts being looked at and similar panels muted. My current union PCS needs to come to terms with this and formulate a response that puts members first. The old blaming a right wing element which isn't there doesn't wash anymore. It just switches members off. Recent social media postings confirming this.