Despite determined campaign activity from activists in PCS, DWP has continued with its office closure programme, with more than 100 offices earmarked for closure.
At the same time DWP continues its corporate centre hub strategy, forcing every member in the Corporate Centre to work in one of six geographical hubs. Many members were 'out of mobility' of their new office and so not able to transfer.
As a result, last August DWP formally declared 825 staff at risk of redundancy. 242 of these were corporate centre staff, the rest being in operations. Since then PCS has been in continual negotiations with DWP to avoid any of these staff being made compulsorily redundant.
By November 2017 these talks had made considerable progress so that about half of these staff had been successfully redeployed into another DWP post within their mobility.
However this still left 371 staff not redeployed and in November they were made an offer of voluntary redundancy. At the same time they were also asked to say whether, if they accepted voluntary redundancy, they would still prefer to remain working for DWP and be redeployed.
Most accepted the voluntary redundancy offer and said they did not want to be redeployed. However, more than 100 said they wanted redeployment despite accepting voluntary redundancy. A further 23 staff refused the voluntary redundancy (VR) offer and so were placed at risk of compulsory redundancy.
Call for greater flexibility
PCS repeatedly pressed DWP to be more flexible in where they located work to enable greater numbers to be redeployed. This pressure paid off and DWP eventually agreed to set up satellite sites and widespread over-bearing to maximise redeployment opportunities.
We have been successful in redeploying nearly all the staff who had told DWP that they wanted to be redeployed, whether or not they accepted VR. For example at Poole and Llanelli, the two offices with the largest numbers at risk of redundancy, all the staff who wanted redeployment have now been offered it.
While this is welcome, it has left a very small number of staff still at risk of compulsory redundancy. PCS is committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies and has been doing everything possible to prevent that from happening.
Group president, Fran Heathcote said: “In an organisation the size of DWP it should never be necessary to make a handful of staff compulsory redundant. PCS is determined to fight to protect members’ jobs. We continue to demand that management shows the necessary flexibility to redeploy all of our members and avoid any unnecessary compulsory redundancies.”