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PCS wins concessions in Brighton CCO dispute 22/07/2015

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.
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PCS has stopped a cut in the number of Customer Care Officers from 10 to 7 in Brighton Jobcentre where there have been serious incidents. The cut was originally due to happen on 18th May. Following talks, and risk assessment reviews by PCS Health and Safety Representatives management have agreed to leave 10 CCOs in place to allow for a review period of at least three months. PCS issued advice in Branch Briefing 079/15 to Health and Safety reps in every Jobcentre to help them respond to any proposals to cut guards and to protect your health and safety at work. See overleaf for details of how to tell us if you have concerns about safety in Jobcentres at leeds@pcs.org.uk

Background

Management’s original proposal was to cut the CCOs from 10 to 7 on 31st May, this was then brought forward without consultation to 18th May. No good reasons were provided by management for this cut and members Brighton felt that this cut would put their safety seriously at risk. Understanding the strength of feeling amongst members at Brighton the East Sussex branch took an indicative secret ballot of their members in Brighton who overwhelmingly indicated that they were prepared to take strike action with 84% of members voting and 72% voting yes to strike action.

Negotiations

PCS made it clear from the outset that they were prepared to enter into negotiations to resolve this dispute and were seeking to ensure that members at Brighton Jobcentre kept safe by having the correct amount of CCOs. We raised issues that related specifically to Brighton and the nature of the community that are served by the Jobcentre, in particular substance abuse and homelessness issues affecting the local community. We also identified issues in what incidents had been counted

In addition we identified a number of areas of work which we felt were not being delivered fully, such as weekly and fortnightly signing. If these activities were done as they were meant to be they would create additional footfall in the office. Also the impact of introduction of the Work Coach Delivery Model (WCDM) had not been assessed. Another problem was that the risk assessment had not been carried out properly and many of the processes delivered in the office had not been risk assessed.

Avoiding a dispute

Whilst we were not able to fully convince management that 10 CCOs was the correct number it they agreed that it was necessary to conduct risk assessments and gather all the relevant information in a more systematic way. In order to avoid a dispute they have agreed to keep the 10 CCOs in place for at least three months in order that a full evaluation of the situation can be agreed with PCS.

PCS has agreed that this helpful approach means that members in Brighton have the best chance of keeping safe and that 3 CCOs will not lose their jobs at this time.

Cutting of CCOs is widespread

The GEC has become aware of other areas where there have been attempts to cut the numbers of CCOs, particularly in the Newcastle City and Romford offices. The GEC is supporting the branches that these offices are in to make sure that they have enough CCOs and staff remain safe.

Keep safe – Report all incidents

Lack of information and evidence to support any claims about increased risks in Jobcentres makea it easier for cuts in CCOs to be justified. Therefore it is vital that staff report all Unacceptable Customer Behaviour (UCB) incidents using the UCB database. Information from the database helps managers and TU Health and Safety Reps agree decisions about how many CCOs are required. If they do not know about incidents then they cannot be taken into consideration when deciding how many CCOs needed.

Please create a shortcut to the incident reporting form on your desktop for convenient access.

Tell us what you think

If you are a Jobcentre manager or work in a Jobcentre, PCS want to know what you think about safety at work, incidents of abuse or violence and any proposals to cut the number of CCOs. Talk to your local PCS rep or tell us at leeds@pcs.org.uk

Mark Page

PCS DWP Group Assistant Secretary

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