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Fixed Term Appointment Staff – News 30/06/2010

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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All PCS DWP Sheffield Branch members,

The branch is aware of the concern of FTA and permanent members about the future staffing position within the department. The recent announcements, including the budget, have just intensified these concerns and we want you to be aware of the work the union has done and will continue to do in order to argue for adequate staffing levels. We also believe that the way that FTA staff have been treated by the department is shameful, without the fixed term appointment staff the department would not have been able to deal with the massive increases in workload due to the recession.

PCS has consistently argued that permanent staffing and permanent recruitment is the best way to deliver public services and the union nationally is calling for all FTAs to be offered permanency. We argued at the time that the recruitment exercises that the department undertook (between 12-24 months ago) would leave the department in a very precarious position in the future. In addition to this we argued that those on FTA contracts would be treated differently and therefore unequally depending on what directorate they ended up in and that this was fundamentally unfair.

Contact Centre

This pressure from PCS locally succeeded in getting some FTA contracts extended earlier this year. In Sheffield Contact Centre 17 members of staff were offered an extension for 3 months on 11 June 2010 , of which 14 took up the offer.  The Appeal Manager for the members concerned had been handed the ODN/HRBPs/Line Managers guidance on ‘EXTENDING FTA CONTRACTS’  during the course of the appeal meetings, by PCS Branch reps as a matter of procedure, and we feel that this led to their eventual extensions.

Now following further pressure in negotiations by National PCS, some other FTAs due to leave before the end of September may be offered a three month contract extension.

But the union’s Group Executive Committee and your local branch believes this is not enough and we have argued that all the FTAs should be made permanent and/or as an interim measure offered a contract extension.  

The union is also aware that many of those recruited at the same time as the fixed term appointment staff in South Yorkshire Jobcentres, Sheffield Contact Centre and BDCs who are in head office functions in Sheffield (e.g. Kings Court and Moorfoot) have been offered permanency. This deployment to different parts of DWP was not on merit but on chance, and so for these different people to end up on completely different terms through no fault of their own is shameful.

All staff recruited at this time were taken on to cover “a time bound piece of work”. When PCS asked what this piece of work was the answer we have constantly been given was “the economic downturn”. Clearly the economic downturn is not over and therefore the department needs these staff help the public.

Unemployment continues its rise

CSD

In the Customer Service Directorate (Local Jobcentres) a huge number of staff have contracts that are due to expire on the 30/11/2010 or shortly after this date. This is up to 30% or 40% of staff in some sites; the local branch is very concerned about the levels of service and the remaining staffs’ health and safety if there are not large scale extensions or permanency offered.

Issues are further complicated for some staff for are on LEP contracts and we have raised our concerns regarding this with the South Yorkshire District manager and are currently waiting for a response.

Like in the BDC and Contact Centre the union will be supporting its FTA members in the CSD with appeals against ending of fixed term contacts within the time limits set by DWP. We are planning to organise members meetings for all effected staff in CSD in September, further details will be released on these as in the near future.

We are also aware of the concerns of those substantive Band Bs who have an FTA contract as a Band C and the loss of earning the end of this contract would result in, and the concerns about who will be covering this work in the future. These members are entitled to appeal in the same way as other FTA staff.

National PCS work

The new government has made clear that it plans job cuts in the DWP. We must keep up the pressure or 15,000 FTA staff could become a crippling 15,000 job cut.

National PCS has had a series of meetings in June with senior management and Ministers, including the Jobcentre Plus Chief Executive and the new Secretary of State. At these meetings the Union has continued to argue members’ concerns in detail and to defend the jobs and services we provide.

Nationally PCS is also raising the need for all FTA staff to be made permanent through the PCS Parliamentary group chaired by John McDonnell MP. 

PCS policy is to negotiate and campaign for more permanent staff to deal with the extra work still caused by the recession and may be exacerbated by the expected ‘double-dip’ recession due to impending wholesale public sector spending cuts.

PCS has told management and the government that if our FTA staff are sacked we will face backlogs, queues and chaos across the Department. Therefore causing stress and misery for the public and the remaining DWP staff. Fundamentally we do not believe that the department responsible for helping the unemployed find work should be making staff redundant. We you want to read more on the national union position on FTA see this link http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/dwp-news.cfm/id/DFC53C4B-925F-42CD-BDEED3A4D160929D

To keep up to date with our campaign for permanent staff to deliver better public services visit the PCS website at www.pcs.org.uk/dwp  and the branch website https://pcsdwpsheffield.wordpress.com. Please be aware of the Electronic Media Policy if accessing this site at work.

Please complete the below model letter to send to your MP to further the campaign. To find out who your MP is and their contact details please see this link. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

MPs letter

For the union to be able to fight the threatened staffing cuts it is vitally important that all DWP staff join PCS. If you are not already a union member please see the attached membership form and complete and return to Linda Woollen, TU Room, 3rd Floor, Hartshead JCP, 1 Hartshead Square, Sheffield, S1 2FD. For those of you on FTA contract the first 6 months of your membership is free, please remember to tick the fixed term contract box on the form.

If you are within 3 months of the end date of your contact and you either wish to appeal against this, then please contact Ian Burton (Contact Centre), Ian Bartholomew (BDC) or Tom Bishell (CSD) or alternatively speak to your local rep. An appeal cannot be submitted more than 3 months before the end of the contract. When meeting your TU Rep it is vitally important that you bring as much documentation as possible including contracts, letter of extension, passing probation letter etc.

Chancellor George Osborne claims that these cuts are ‘unavoidable’ – this is not true. They are  a choice and we must never forget that.

There is an alternative to the cuts.

PCS DWP Sheffield Branch Executive Committee

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