In previous PCS briefings we have outlined our concerns and opposition to the ACAS Transformation Programme.
This includes our opposition to the closure of the Liverpool office, the reduction in the number of help-line locations and the changes to the conciliation service; involving the downgrading of a significant chunk of grade 9 work and potential further downgrading once the full grade 10 cadre has been deployed.
The grade 9 conciliation role
PCS ws told that the Transformation Programme was not about saving costs and members were informed of this too. But it is clearly not true. Members have been under pressure with Early Conciliation for three years. Significant numbers of grade 9s have left since its introduction and the employer took decisions not to replace them.
The savings generated from not replacing leavers are now being used in part to recruit grade 10’s to do grade 9 work. PCS has submitted two collective grievances on behalf of conciliators since Early Conciliation was launched; the last one was simply dismissed out of hand by the CEO despite it including a complaint about understaffing. ACAS now say they are addressing understaffing but their way of doing it is to replace grade 9’s with grade 10’s.
In the meantime ACAS expect grade 9s to continue to work on cases which it has deemed to be lower graded work; the employer wants you to carry on doing the work whilst they recruit new staff and we are fearful that you could be made surplus at the end of it!
We want meaningful consultation on the grade 10 and grade 9 role. We want to reverse the decision to downgrade grade 9 conciliation work.
We have written to ACAS with our concerns about transformation and setting out our dispute including the assurances we are looking for. They have offered to talk to us and we are waiting for them to give us dates. We will update members as soon as we know more. The assurances we are looking for are the following:
- Meaningful consultation on the Transformation Programme and to pause implementation while talks take place;
- Reverse the decision to close the Liverpool office;
- Reverse the decision to downgrade some of the grade 9 conciliation work, full consultation on the grade 9 role going forward and protections for the role;
PCS is concerned that grade 10s are under incredible pressure and we want to talk to the employer about changes to improve the work conditions for these members. The group executive committee (GEC) recently agreed a motion that set out a number of key campaign demands aimed at improving work conditions for all members at ACAS:
The PCS BEIS Group Executive Committee (GEC) discussed the concerns of all our members at ACAS at its meeting in May. That meeting agreed to raise the following concerns/demands with ACAS:
- Suspend all training of grade 10s into conciliation roles and put them back on to the helpline to help relieve the pressure on staff;
- Urgently recruit staff at all offices to tackle the queues;
- Increase pay in ACAS to address recruitment problems;
- Get rid of the countdown system so helpline staff have control over when the next call comes through;
- End the obsession with ‘adherence’ and call times and emphasise quality not numerical targets;
- Schedule time off phones after five days off to catch up with emails;
- Reform the breaks and lunches policy so that staff have autonomy over when they go for their breaks and lunches;
- Improve access to flexibility in start and finish times for helpline staff.
PCS wins first round at the CAC
PCS has tried to get meaningful discussions with ACAS on transformation. We made a complaint to the CAC over failure to consult which ACAS tried to get thrown out on jurisdiction. PCS argued the case that ACAS did have jurisdiction at a preliminary hearing and we won. The full hearing to determine whether or not ACAS consulted PCS will be in the autumn; we will keep you updated.
Get involved with our campaign
Taking our case to the CAC is really important and is potentially a route to force ACAS to consult with us properly but we must continue to campaign to get the decisions reversed. Campaign materials have gone out to all ACAS workplaces and more are on the way. Please write to your MP and get involved with our campaign against cuts. Links to e-action your MP will be on the PCS website soon.
If you have any questions about this briefing or need more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org