Digital members out in the cold

In May 2017, members in the digital group, part of DWP’s corporate centre, were informed of the group’s ‘Functional location strategy’(FLS). This specified the locations each work stream would be delivered from. Anyone finding their role was now in the ‘wrong’ place would lose their post unless they could move with the work.

Letters were subsequently issued to nearly 40 individuals in July, confirming they had been displaced by the strategy. FLS was presented as part of the Building for our Future Programme (BfoF), but in reality the only requirement this placed on the digital members was to be based in a corporate hub, and all those involved already worked in one.

Earlier requests from PCS for a meeting to discuss the FLS had been refused on the grounds a final decision had not been taken. The arrival of the letters, signalling a decision to go ahead without engaging the union, was a disappointing development.

The employer admitted linking FLS to BfoF was a mistake, and following PCS representation the letters were eventually withdrawn. Nevertheless, having been unable to link their initiative to BfoF, digital decided to go ahead independently of the wider estates changes.

No meaningful attempt

Despite learning in May that their posts could move elsewhere, no meaningful attempts to redeploy those affected occurred until November, when a single matching exercise against an incomplete list of digital vacancies took place. There were no further efforts until January this year, when a new process of publishing vacancies and allowing those affected to apply for jobs they felt were suitable was introduced.

In March, those still without posts were declared unassigned, and workforce management procedures implemented.

At the time of writing, nearly a year on from first hearing of the strategy, 16 of those affected remain without posts. In less time BfoF has redeployed thousands, including more than 800 that were at risk of redundancy.

The failure to act promptly and effectively in redeploying this relatively small number of individuals, along with a refusal to provide a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, has left those involved feeling stressed, anxious and unsupported by their employer. PCS does not accept the need for the FLS to be implemented in this way. All those unassigned are compliant with the corporate centre hub strategy and in many cases have been doing their jobs effectively in their current location for years. Yet they find themselves without posts. PCS will continue to press for all those affected to be given alternative roles or be allowed to continue their current positions in their existing locations.

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