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ALL OUT! 20TH/21ST JANUARY! 17/01/2011

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

Strike Meetings:
Tuesday 18th January, outside in Hartshead Square
11.30, 12, 12.30, 1.00, 1.30, 2.00
Meetings will be no more than ten minutes long. It is very important that you attend one.

To all members in Sheffield Contact Centre,

As you will be aware by now, PCS has called two days of strike action in the seven TPIP sites (Sheffield, Springburn, Newport, Norwich, Chorlton, Makerfield and Bristol) for Thursday 20th and Friday 21st of this month.

This is after a long period of negotiation with Jobcentre Plus management over the terms and conditions for workers in sites involved in the ‘transformation’, which obviously has a knock-on effect for all Contact Centre staff.

Why is it necessary to take strike action?

As a Contact Centre member of staff you should be entitled to the same rights and working conditions as any other DWP employee, and though considering our management’s attitude it can be sometimes easy to forget, our employer is not the Contact Centre, but the Department for Work and Pensions.

Those of you who worked in the BDC or in other parts of DWP may remember fondly the terms that were enjoyed there. Whilst PCS is under no illusions that any part of DWP has ideal working conditions, and we believe they still leave a lot to be desired, there is still a huge gap between the working conditions in the Contact Centre and outside it. This is a common experience in all JCP Contact Centres across the country.

Since the TPIP project was announced, PCS have been in negotiation with JCP management to attempt to curtail the detriment in terms and conditions for these workers, and improve those for workers across the Contact Centre Directorate. These negotiations have now broken down due to lack of concession on the part of management.

What can I do to support the strike action?

• Picket Hartshead Square. There will a picket line between on 7am and 10.30am on both days of the action, please come and join reps. There will also a picket line at the car park entrance near Cavendish Court.

• Join the demonstration in Hartshead Square on Thursday between 12:30pm and 1pm. This will be advertised widely and we expect support from other parts of PCS and other Unions.

• Work to rule/overtime ban • Support your union reps in their current battle against local Contact Centre management’s intimidation – there will be more details on this soon.

 • Recruitment a DWP colleague into PCS – the stronger the strike is, the more likely we are to win our demands.

• If you are able, donate to the branch hardship fund. This is a fund we use to help members who may be put into financial hardship through their decision to take strike action. Contact your local rep about this.

Management’s Approach

It is standard at times of industrial action for local managers including line managers to ask all balloted workers whether intend to attend work or not on the days called. Many workers feel pressured by this approach.

You do not have to answer this request, and even if you do, you do not have to keep to whichever response you choose to give.

Although management say this is purely a way for them to manage staffing levels on the day, we feel it is also a way of persuading workers to break the strike.

Your union calls on all staff in Sheffield Contact Centre to come out for both days. The decision to take action was made based on a majority vote by members in the seven TPIP sites, and we would ask staff to respect the democratic decision of the members and show their solidarity by coming out on strike.

The Rest of the Branch

Obviously the Contact Centre makes up just over a third of our members in the branch, but we are asking your colleagues in other parts of Sheffield Branch to show their support in other ways, even though they cannot take solidarity action (because of the anti-trade union laws introduced by the Thatcher government).

They will be wearing stickers saying ‘I Support The Contact Centre Workers’, and we will also be asking them to wear something red to work to show solidarity. They will also be urged to donate to the Hardship Fund. Many reps and members have already committed donating a sizeable amount of their pay, especially where they are in parts of the business that aren’t on strike.

Many members in other parts of the branch are acutely aware that it is a coincidence that they ended up working where they do, and not in the Contact Centre. They are fearful that working conditions will spread from the Contact Centre to other parts of the Department, especially with the current government’s funding squeeze and cuts agenda.


Contact Centre Reps and the Branch Executive Committee



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