More than 80 representatives from PCS, Unite Community and Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) met in December at PCS HQ to discuss ways of working together to combat the government’s attacks on claimants and workers through the introduction of Universal Credit and the closure of jobcentres and offices across DWP.
The conference was organised by Unite Community, London Unemployed Strategies and PCS DWP London region. Thanks to social media the event attracted people from Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire, as well.
The Conference opened with introductions from Liane Groves, Colin Hampton, both from Unite Community, Nick Phillips of London Unemployed Strategies and John McInally, PCS NEC and DWP GEC member. Mark Page, DWP assistant secretary also attended to detail the group’s work on Universal Credit and welfare reform.
The conference broke into workshops to discuss Universal Credit rollout, jobcentre closures digitalization, redundancies and representation for claimants in the morning workshops in the afternoon discussed the Welfare Charter and setting up “stand up for your rights” groups.
In between workshops, Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary addressed the conference. Emily was able to share Labour’s view about Universal Credit over which she had direct shadow responsibility for in 2016 and participated in a lively question and answer session which people found very useful.
Tony Reay, PCS DWP Regional Secretary commented “I was a bit nervous about how the day, which had taken a considerable amount of planning, would turn out. I needn’t have been, everybody was really positive and wanted to work together. In 2018 we hope London PCS branches will be meeting with DPAC and Unite Community locally to continue campaigning for a better social security system”.
Tony hopes that other PCS DWP regions will be encouraged by London’s work to set up events with Unite and DPAC in their regions.