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Local Bulletin: Fantastic Turnout in TPIP Strike 03/02/2011

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

Please click here to see full circular with photos, soon to be issued to members.

The Branch Committee would like to congratulate members in the branch for a fantastic turnout on the recent strike. Not only did hardly anyone cross the picket line, the picket itself was also very strong, with a number of CCD members joining reps from offices across the branch, reps from other PCS branches, Group Executive members and other supporters who were there from 7am both days.

Media Frenzy

It’s clear that this is an issue that resonates with the public. While the tabloids suggested that we were moaning over being worked too hard, most media outlets that spoke to our pickets – BBC Radio 5 Live (and Radio 1 Newsbeat), Radio Sheffield, Hallam FM, Real Radio, Sheffield Star, Yorkshire Post, ITV Calendar and BBC Look North – were very sympathetic and interested in the cause.

Public Service Cannot Be Measured in Minutes and Seconds

We made the case from the outset that this was never just about our own treatment – it’s also about the service we are providing. AHT’s and scripts mean that we aren’t able to use our knowledge and experience to help customers fully with their query. CCD Management measures customer service by how quickly you can put the phone down on a customer (regardless of whether they ring back five time afterwards) or hand it off. PCS believes real public services need the time and skill to be dealt with properly. We are not a profiteering business, we are a frontline public service serving some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Fantastic Support

We are not alone in our struggle. On Wednesday night, some Sheffield school students came down to give leaflets to staff leaving work. They said:

We, the South Yorkshire School Students Against Cuts extend our solidarity and support to all striking members of PCS and workers in Sheffield Contact Centre. Call centres are generally recognised as among the worst places to work with regards to terms and conditions of employment, and we know that many of you were forced to work in the Contact Centre against your will, often after many years of experience elsewhere in the Civil Service.

We also know that many of you have only ever worked there, and experience a shadow of the terms and conditions on offer to your colleagues elsewhere in the DWP. We give our support to all Contact Centre workers in Jobcentre Plus, and like you, will not accept such terrible working conditions for public sector staff.

As young people it is particularly important for us to support you and work with you in your campaign – call centres are invariably staffed by younger people, who suffer from terrible exploitation. Through a successful campaign you could set a precedent for other call centres in the UK that will improve these working conditions.

Furthermore, due to increasing unemployment, it becomes more and more likely that young people like us will end up using the Jobcentre Plus services as youth unemployment rises to levels now around 1 million. It is absolutely vital then, that those services which we have are staffed properly, by workers who are treated well and have good conditions.

It is our brothers and sisters, parents and friends, who staff the Jobcentre Plus offices. We support your fight for flexible working, ‘family friendly’ policies, a right to work without target-driven working or an intimidating monitoring system. We support you because we are the public sector employees of the future, and because we support all workers in struggle.

Your fight is our fight – solidarity! – SYSAC

We’ve also had a number of messages from other people:

Solidarity Greetings from Labour Fight. Stand firm and you will be victorious! – Labour Fight

Just sending support to those on strike. Best wishes! – Mary

“I became aware of your strikes two days ago and issued the  attached circular to all STUC on line affiliated organisations and to  the
media. In the event of my being able to give additional assistance  please do
not hesitate to let me know. Best wishes. Yours fraternally,  Bill” – Bill Ronksley, Secretary, Sheffield Trades Council

“Just to send solidarity greeting for today. sorry I can’t
be on piket line…. And congratulations to all those members prepared to unite
and defend themselves.” – Marion Lloyd, PCS National Executive Committee and BIS Branch Sheffield

“Message of solidarity? – Union member. Definitely in solidarity. Hang tough, people.” – Nancy Sinatra, Singer, USA

“Good luck with the strike!” – Steve Lloyd, Ex-Branch Secretary, now NASUWT

“Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts stands in solidarity with the DWP workers on strike around the country. As students we are aware that call-centre workers are amongst the youngest and most exploited workforce in Britian and with the cuts announced by the Tory government, conditions for public-sector call-center workers is likely to get worse without this fightback. You are fighting for your jobs, but you are also fighting against an ideology that says that the destruction of working conditions, jobs and pay, while the rich get richer is an inevitability. We know this isn’t true, and stand in solidarity with all workers standing up for their rights.” – Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts

“Was angry when I heard from Martin about what you are being put  through at work. As a student at sheffield university and a member of  the 10 day occupation over the education cuts, you have our whole  hearted support and we will be on the picket with you! When they  have money for the banks and for the war, and when they are happy to
let  vodafone and phillip green dodge tax when we are loosing our jobs,
education, pensions and welfare – what we need to do is fight back –  students and workers united can fight and win!” – Max Brophy, Sheffield University

“Rawmarsh Community School send our support to the striking Sheffield DWP Branch. It  is a disgrace that those least responsible for causing the economic  crisis are being asked to shoulder the costs.  We are also in the middle  of a series of strikes due to job cuts. Good luck in your strike. Warm regards.” – Ralph Dyson – NUT Rep

To the DWP workers, Best wishes for the strike. You are fighting for all of us. Victory to the TPIP workers! Victory to the PCS! Victory to the working class! – Matt Wells, PCS Efra Group Assistant Secretary (personal capacity)

“Best wishes to you and your members at Hartshead Square, here’s hoping that you have a successful outcome to your dispute” – Mike Degnan, Branch Secretary on behalf of PCS DWP Hull and East Riding Branch

“The Rotherham Division of the National Union of Teachers wish to express our support for your cause. We share a common fight against a common enemy; those who put profits before human welfare and dignity.” John Dalton, Negotiating Secretary, Rotherham NUT

“It goes without saying that you have the full support and best wishes for success from the DfE Sheffield Branch. We are looking to hold a bucket collection…and reps have been encouraged to visit the picket line.” Robbie Faulds, PCS Department for Education Sheffield and PCS Education Groups President

Support also from the Right to Work Campaign, Sheffield Anti Cuts Alliance, Sheffield Trades Council

News since the Strike
The strike was a national success. DWP attempted to manipulate the percentages of those on strike by including non-balloted workplaces, but the turnout in balloted sites was huge. Our branch considered it the best supported strike we have ever had, which just goes to show the strength of feeling about the conditions in Sheffield Contact Centre.
There will be more news shortly of progress and the BEC will keep you informed.
CCD Reps and the Branch Executive Committee.



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