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CCS Ballot – Reject the Offer – Demand Better Now! 26/10/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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CCS Ballot – Reject the Offer – Demand Better Now!

Dear Colleague,

Without first consulting its own appointed Contact Centre Advisory Committee, or meeting with CCS reps from each site to hear their views, the GEC is recommending that you accept managements’ offer and end our Contact Centre dispute. This unilateral approach is at variance with how the campaign has been run up to this point and is of great concern to the majority of site reps. In holding members meetings prior to the reps meeting, it is clear the intention was to by pass the activists, who would throw out the deal, and for the GEC to try and sell it directly to members.  The GEC recommendation is included with your ballot paper.  We disagree with it.

Site reps did finally meet the GEC on 11th October to express their view on the proposed agreement. The local CCS TU Sides firmly in favour of the proposed agreement were:  Blackburn, Grimsby, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Paisley, Poole, and Stockport. Firmly opposed were:  Bristol, Chorlton, Coventry, Halifax, Liverpool, Makerfield, Marton Mere, Norwich, Pembroke Dock, Sheffield and Springburn. In addition, there were a number of other sites reps who were opposed but felt that their members would follow the GEC lead and vote to settle. A majority of CCS site TU sides did not endorse this proposal.

Why vote “No” in the Ballot?
Firstly, a rejection of the proposed agreement does not of itself mean a protracted series of strike days: we need to develop the campaign in a more structured way, including arguing how the current job design can lead to occupationally linked diseases, such as chronic stress, and hold management to account to comply with existing legislation when non-telephony as a reasonable adjustment is needed, and push for transfer opportunities. It is clearly management who are on the back foot on this issue and they have conceded ground every time strike action has either been threatened or taken. However, this has not been as part of a coherent plan.

While there has been a great number of improvements since the campaign was first launched with a national strike in April last year, this was not followed up until by further action until 13th August this year, despite members voting twice for a programme of discontinuous action. This offer:

  • Does not end 7:24 scheduling;
  • Does not provide adequate, further flexibilities; the proposed rota system will mean staff will only work late on alternate weeks, however as the 80% preferences are retained does this mean we will have to make up this deficit by working two late nights on alternate weeks?
  • Does not attempt to address excessive stress specific to contact centres;
  • Does not significantly change the oppressive target culture;
  • Does not guarantee a job design which allows adequate non-telephony work;
  • Does not guarantee acceptable permanent staffing levels; they will only increase staffing “up to complement” (i.e. the September 2012 figure) when it is clear this is too low in the first place – 25% of all calls are routinely missed;
  • Does not address uncertainty for disabled and Band A staff; offer non-telephony work where needed without having to constantly fight for it;
  • Does not end AHT’s: although call times are removed as an individual target they are still retained as office targets; so members will simply be bullied for “failing to contribute to office targets” rather than for not achieving an individual target;
  • Does not guarantee of further privatisation; the DWP retains contracts with Capita and SERCO that allow for telephony work to be given to them without further tendering;
  • Does not really give a commitment to not “micro manage” – management have always denied that this already happens; unless this is made into a disciplinary offence, as it used to be in HMRC, this is no guarantee of change;

Universal Credit – Yet More Telephony?

You also have a vested interest in the long – term. As the Universal Credit job designs have yet to be issued, we have no knowledge of how much will be processing and how much will be telephony: we only know that there will be a mix of activities. Given that the Crisis Loan job design was transformed from a purely processing activity into an entirely telephony based one, it is clearly possible to transform most of what are currently processing job roles in Benefits Centres into Telephony roles under UC.

It is short – sighted of the GEC to ignore the probability that our issues will not only continue to affect us to an unknown extent under UC, but will affect many thousands more of our colleagues currently working in Benefits Centres. We need to continue the campaign to pressure management into designing as few telephony job roles within UC as well as pushing for further improvements in CC working conditions, non -Telephony work and transfer opportunities.

On this basis, to end the campaign at this time would be foolhardy: we must have detail of UC job design before even contemplating an end to the CCS campaign, as a significant percentage of staff may find that they continue in a telephony role – still on WFM – delivering UC. As the government has still to deliver 85% of its Public Sector cuts, conversion of existing processing work into telephony is most likely; we experienced a real-time doubling of daily expected productivity when we moved from Benchmarks over to AHT’s.

The GEC have stated that we need to show faith in management and given them a “second chance” – this faith was clearly not shared by the majority of CC site representatives when they met with the GEC. The GEC stated that they want to “focus on other serious attacks” and “don’t want this dispute to run on for another three and a half years”. This not a sound basis to end the Campaign.

The following CCS TU Sides urge you to vote for rejection of the offer – we believe there are more gains to be made.

Yours Fraternally,

Bristol, Chorlton, Coventry, Halifax, Liverpool, Makerfield, Marton Mere, Norwich, Sheffield and Springburn Contact Centre Trade Union Sides.

(Sheffield Contact Centre Trade Union Side:

 Lee Rock, Ian Burton, Vinny Herring, Rosie Huzzard and Lauren Dixon)

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