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PCS Opposes Compulsory Transfers for Staff 14/09/2011

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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DWP briefing

Department for Work & Pensions Group

 

To:       Branch Secretaries, Additional Branch Contact, Regional Secretaries, GEC

Date:   12 September 2011

DWP/BB/128/11

 

PCS Opposes Compulsory Transfers in Jobcentre Plus

 

Due to the ban on recruitment and the sacking of so many FTA staff,  management are faced with a  the staffing situation in certain areas that has become so bad that they claim that they need to transfer in staff from other parts of the COO network to alleviate this situation. They claim to have tried to seek volunteers for this but have failed to persuade sufficient numbers to volunteer to transfer. As a result management now intend to use compulsory transfers to address the situation.

 

This situation is entirely one of management’s own making. They have allowed thousands of FTA staff to leave Jobcentre Plus over the last year and they continue to sack FTAs even while they claim to have a staffing crisis that requires the use of compulsory transfers.

 

Where will compulsory transfer be used?

PCS has repeatedly asked management for details of which offices will be asked to compulsory transfer staff, and the numbers and grades of staff at these offices, as well as details of the importing offices. To date management have failed to give TUS precise details of this. The best information that they have managed to provide is this:

 

Exporting Site Importing Site Numbers required to transfer
Caerphilly CCD Newport JD 16
Caerphilly CCD Cardiff Charles JD 25
Bridgend JD Bridgend CCD 12
Gloucester BCD Gloucester JD 12
Worthing BCD Various JD Surrey and Sussex 40
Norwich CCD Various JD East Anglia 70
Peterborough BDC Various JD East Anglia 27
Milton Keynes BDC Milton Keynes JD 30
Makerfield/Chorlton CCD Various JD Greater Manchester E & W 29
Various JD Northumberland Tyne and Wear Newcastle CCD 70
Various JD Durham/Tyne Tees Middlesbrough CCD 48
Wembley BDC Wembley JD 26

 

They have also indicated that transfers may be needed in Essex, Beds & Herts, Kent, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and North & Mid Wales. PCS has been told that the reason why compulsory transfers are needed is a staffing crisis in so called hotspots in JD. It is therefore surprising that management are also considering using compulsory transfers out of JD into CCD. Management say this is to balance CCD staff that are transferring into JD elsewhere,

 

Despite the lack of clarity over where compulsory transfers may occur management are intending to start to select staff for permanent compulsory transfer from Monday 12 September. PCS does not accept that any of our offices are over-staffed and can afford to lose staff to other offices without a negative impact on customer service.

 

Volunteers

Management have agreed that in every case they will seek volunteers first before they begin to seek compulsory transfers. This should reduce the numbers that are needed to compulsory transfer and in some areas may remove the need for compulsory transfers altogether. However where management have already asked for volunteers they say that it has not produced enough volunteers and so they now insist that they need to move on to compulsory transfers.

 

PCS believes that much more needs to be done to increase the numbers of volunteers and thereby remove the need for permanent compulsory transfers. We have suggested advertising the vacancies across all of DWP, offering TDA as an incentive to transfer or offering detached duty terms. Unfortunately all of these reasonable suggestions to avoid compulsory transfers have been rejected by management.

 

Unsatisfactory Selection Process

Management have said that none of the staff they intend to select for compulsory transfer are surplus and admit that they are not even at risk of becoming surplus. There is no clear DWP policy for compulsory transferring staff in a non-surplus situation. Despite the lack of any clear DWP policy to support this process, management insist on going ahead.

 

In order to do so they have lifted bits of different DWP policies and intend to use this to select staff for compulsory transfers. The key policy that will be used is the Mobility Ranking Process, even though this is designed solely for use in managing surpluses. This Process can be found in Para 1.26-7 of the DWP Workforce Management Procedures.

 

The key factor that management plan to use to select staff for compulsory transfer will be the proximity of staff to the importing offices. Though management do also intend to take into account skills, suitability and any relevant personal circumstances, it is clear that proximity to the importing office will be the main factor used. A Grade 7 or above is accountable for any final decision on compulsory transfers. PCS has not agreed the use of this method of selection.

 

Attached to this circular is the guidance that management will be sending to managers for use from 12th September.

 

Wider DWP staffing situation

The move to use permanent compulsory transfers is happening despite the uncertain staffing situation in the rest of Jobcentre Plus and the wider Department. We know that staff surpluses are almost certain to result due to the programme of office closures, the reviews of the Corporate Centre and Shared Services and the reductions in the local Pensions Service. We also know that management are continuing to sack FTA staff every month.

 

Given this huge uncertainty PCS have told management that, instead of compulsory transfers, management should be making FTA staff permanent, keeping any vacancies open so that they can be filled by surplus staff from elsewhere in DWP where practical and seeking the removal of the ban on external recruitment where necessary. But, despite this clearly being the wrong thing to do at this time, management are insistent that they have to proceed to compulsory transfers. Even PCS’ suggestion that any compulsory transfers should be temporary rather than permanent, while the wider DWP staffing position becomes clearer, has been rejected by management.

 

Contentious and Unpopular Moves

PCS has warned management that compulsorily transferring staff in this way will be highly contentious and deeply unpopular. Members will face having their working life severely disrupted. Many members will face longer journeys to work and unwelcome changes to their roles and duties. Members will be selected for compulsory transfer using an arbitrary and unfair selection process.  PCS has made it clear to management that we are completely opposed to the use of compulsory transfers in this situation. Despite all this management appear determined to ignore the impact their actions will have on their staff and proceed regardless.

 

As management have so far been unable to give PCS nationally precise details of where they claim that they need to make compulsory transfers, this information will now have to be subject to discussion at group and local level. Where management say there is a need for compulsory transfers in their areas branches must insist that full consultation on this occurs in line with Para 1.26 of the DWP WFM Procedures.

 

Consultation with PCS

Management have said they will continue to communicate and engage with PCS throughout this process. The guidance they have decided to use does at least commit management to informing PCS of any plans to move staff or groups of staff in advance of any action being taken. Where transfers are of a significant distance or into another town, then in depth discussions with PCS are required, along with a commitment to handle the matter with sensitivity. As a result reps and branches where these transfers are expected to occur should expect full and detailed consultation with their management on this issue. Reps should be aware that PCS nationally has not agreed the use of compulsory transfers in this situation and has not agreed the selection process.

 

Action for Branches

Where management inform reps of their intention to move to compulsory transfers branches and regions should take the following steps:

 

  • Insist on full and detailed consultation at every level
  • ensure that every effort is made to seek volunteers in advance of moving to compulsion
  • inform Group Office if inadequate measures are used to seek volunteers
  • demand that the net for volunteers is cast as widely as possible
  • make clear the complete opposition of PCS to the use of compulsory transfers in these circumstances
  • challenge the numbers that management claim that they need to compulsorily transfer
  • challenge the assumption that exporting offices can afford to lose experienced staff at such a time
  • demand that any FTAs locally are offered contract extensions instead of compulsorily transferring other staff
  • ask for time and premises to hold members meetings to seek the views of members at risk of compulsory transfer
  • feedback these views and any issues to PCS DWP Group office

 

 

These proposals to use compulsory permanent transfers of staff show a complete disregard for the wishes and well-being of their staff. These transfers are nor needed to deal with any surpluses or possible redundancies. They only serve to move staff around Jobcentre Plus against their will instead of dealing with the real problem of staffing shortages by making FTA’s permanent and recruiting new staff. PCS had made our opposition very clear and we will continue to strongly oppose any unnecessary compulsory transfers. The Group Executive Committee is meeting on 20th September and will be considering the campaigning action necessary to deal with this issue and the increasing staffing problems across DWP.

 

Charles Law                      Rob Williams

Negotiations Officer        Group Assistant Secretary

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