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Contact Centre Strike on Monday – don’t cover CC members’ work! 09/08/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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Please see the latest from PCS DWP Group about the contact centre strike. There is a rebuttal of management’s recent pathetic attempt to persuade people not to go out on Monday, in the form of a circular and a series of workplace meetings. See the PCS view here:

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/contact-centre-campaign/pcs-response-to-contact-centre-management-site-staff-meetings-.cfm

PCS response to Contact Centre management site staff meetings

Background

Since PCS members democratically decided to resume the industrial action in Contact centres, management has started trying to apply pressure to staff prior to next Monday’s action.

Overwhelming ballot result

In the recent consultative ballot, 82% of members in CCS voted overwhelmingly in support of taking further discontinuous strike action while 89% voted to say that further improvements to working conditions in CCS were needed before the dispute could be ended.

Since the ballot result was announced, PCS has attempted to resolve the dispute by demanding urgent talks with management. Unfortunately, these talks have not provided a resolution to the dispute. CCS management have now taken the step of talking to members to try and convince them that their working conditions are good. It is a shame that CCS management are not prepared to spend as much time trying to resolve the dispute.

Improvements so far

All the progress that we have made so far in the working conditions have been hard won by the PCS campaign with full support and pressure from members working in CCS. This progress includes:

  • Unscheduled breaks
  • Unscheduled lunches
  • Improved flexibility at start and end of day
  • At least one hour return to work time after week or more absence

More is needed

While these measures are undoubtedly helpful there are still a number of issues we are working to resolve with management, and the view of the group executive committee is that substantially more than this is needed to satisfy the 89% of members who voted in favour of further improvements to CCS working conditions. Our demands include:

  • Dealing with the causes of sickness absence – supportive approach to retain staff and make improvements to the working environment which should help reduce the absence levels. Improvements in accommodating reasonable adjustments.
  • Improved access to flexible working hours – including the ability to build up excess and deficit flexi.
  • Less micro-management – judging performance holistically rather than the concentration targets and AHTs, and performance only looked at during one-to-ones. Tolerance around break times, rather than the heavy-handed approach. More emphasis on team leader role in making decisions
  • Ending unnecessary scripting of calls
  • Flexibility on the plans – while there is always time for management priorities including these sessions, pressure builds up on everything else.

Members have fought hard for the progress made so far, but 89% of members believe that more improvements are needed urgently. PCS has called for industrial action on Monday, 13 August to put pressure on management to return to the negotiating table and offer improvements to the working conditions in CCS.

PCS asks all Contact Centre members to support the strike on Monday 13 August.

See here the reasons why we are still campaigning, after three years of the dispute – the Contact Centre continues to be an unacceptable place to work:

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/contact-centre-campaign/why-management-proposals-to-end-the-contact-centre-dispute-are-not-enough.cfm

And see here the original article about the strike from PCS, apologies for the delay:

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/dwp-news.cfm/id/CB312A95-CD12-4768-887914E8631D3055

  • In addition, staff in non Contact Centre sites in Sheffield, such as the Benefit Delivery Site at Premier House are being asked to come in and provide strike-breaking cover on the phones on Monday. We are confident that members understand that this is directly in opposition to the campaign of their colleagues in the Contact Centre and ask them (as if they need asking – we know you won’t do it!) not to come and  cover the work. You have the right to refuse to do this. The union believes in real customer service, and if the employer did too, they would accept our terms and not put us in a position where we have to take strike action. Cover on the phones is not about customer service (as all that customers will be told is to ring back the next day), but about the DWP managing the strike figures down. Show strength – support the Contact Centre strike!
  • We also ask as many staff as possible to come down and man the picket lines at Hartshead on Monday morning, from 7-10am. Please come for as much or as little as you can manage as it is important that it is members, not just reps who are there fighting for our conditions.
  • The recent privatisation of JSAOL shows that the Department has no regard for our job security in the future – rest assured this will not stop with one small team, they intend to have all of First Contact done online (and therefore by Capita) in just a few month’s time. If we don’t fight for our rights now, we will have nothing to defend later.

Messages of Solidarity!

Dear everyone involved in the strike, 
I wish you the best of luck and my full solidarity for your strike – you are doing what is just and right! 
 
All the best, 
Daniel Cooper
University of London Union Vice President (ULU) and GMB K19 Young members rep. 

____________

All the best to PCS members in the DWP Job centre Plus Contact Centres in their current dispute.  Bullying management, overwork, reduced services and privatisation is what we seem to be facing now across the public sector.

In the NUT we too expect to be taking national strike action in Autumn over pensions, pay and workload. At many of our schools we now face levels of bullying and oppressive management never before experienced. This means that more national action and a rash of localdisputes looks very likely.  We hope that this time our unions do not stop at one day.

We hope to build closer co-operation between our unions at national and grassroots level in the coming months.

Ben Morris
Joint Branch Secretary, Sheffield NUT (pc)

____________

Good luck and solidarity to PCS members striking for dignity at work in Contact Centres. The struggle of benefits workers for decent working conditions must be linked up with the struggle of unemployed workers and benefits claimants for dignity and decent welfare provision. They are part of the same fight for a civilised society where human need comes before the needs of profit.

Daniel Randall, GMB Southern Region Young Members’ Network and Workers’ Liberty member

____________

Good luck and solidarity for strike action on Monday.
Fighting to defend and improve conditions especially the lowest paid and most vulnerable is essential if we are to turn the tide on the present attacks under the guise of ‘austerity’ related cuts!

In local government and especially Newcastle City Council where I work we have many years ago won improved flexible working, but both that and sick pay will further come under attack as jobs are cut, and workers are expected to take on the extra duties. We must oppose all attacks, cuts, and job losses while seeking to improve terms and conditions for all workers.

We must try to coordinate more action and link up to learn the lessons.

Our unison branch doesn’t meet again until September so we cannot discuss your dispute but please send further information that I can share with our branch in early September.

Good luck and solidarity.

Ed Whitby
Newcastle City Unison Children’s Services convenor
Newcastle Alliance for Worker’s Liberty

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