Sunday, 7 August 2016
DWP: A quiet rebellion against the Pay Deal
The civil trade unions recently balloted their members in the DWP over the new "Employee Deal" or Pay Offer to give it it's real name. The problem for members was that in order to get a pay rise they will have to agree to changing their working patterns to "fit in" with the introduction of the new Universal Credit benefit as it is rolled out across the country.
The "deal" is in effect a form of blackmail. Members will have to agree to earlier/later starts, one evening per week plus one Saturday in four. Each individual will agree this patter for a set period with their manager in advance. If they decide to "opt-out" (which has to be done by the end of the month or staff will have been assumed to accept the new conditions) then they become entitled to the higher pay rise.
If members "opted out" the pay award is derisory to say the least. Just 0.25% for this year and the immediate future.
Unsurprisingly a lot of members have reluctantly agreed to accept the new deal and were balloted by Prospect, PCS and the FDA which resulted in an unusually high turn out.
The story does not end there.
It was reported at the recent Prospect DWP Executive meeting that something like 12,000 people have opted out. This figure may not seem high in comparison to the number of staff in the DWP, but it appears these are disproportionately front-line staff. It's believed that the entire Benefit Centre in Sheffield has chosen the opt-out route.
This will obviously cause problems. members do not like being "blackmailed" and resent working evenings and weekends. Of course the situation differs across the department. In my own office I know of only one person that has chosen to opt out, but in offices where large numbers have done so the new operations will be effected detrimentally.
Morale in the DWP, particularly on the front-line in Job Centres and Benefit Centres is at an all time low. Less staff, increased workload including having to take on new benefit knowledge of ESA & Income Support, let alone preparation for Universal Credit has taken it's toll.
There will be problems ahead.
Join Prospect: https://www.prospect.org.uk/