The DWP Group Executive Committee (GEC) met on 23 and 24 October and agreed an important set of steps to campaign on pay and staffing.
Pay 2019 – Members' meetings reject pay offer
Following the GEC’s decision to unanimously reject the 2019 DWP pay offer workplace meetings have been held in branches with GEC speakers to consult members. The result of these meetings is that members virtually unanimously supported the GEC’s rejection of the offer and our demand that DWP go back to the Treasury for extra funding to meet our pay claim.
The GEC was able to use the feedback from members to pursue our demands in a meeting with the Permanent Secretary on 8 October but the DWP refused go back to the Treasury for extra funding to meet our pay claim.
As members have now also rejected the pay offer the GEC have agreed actions to step up our campaigning around pay.
20,000 extra Staff needed
During the workplace pay meetings it became very clear that members are equally angry about staffing cuts and want to campaign for more staff.
DWP Group Conference in May 2019 called for the GEC to challenge the DWP budget constraints and to quantify the additional funding needed to properly deliver services to the public. The GEC have continuously argued for more staff in departmental negotiations since May.
Despite the anger at members meetings the DWP claims that the department is over-staffed and use this to justify not replacing leavers with new staff and making the problem worse.
Currently in DWP:
- Permanent recruitment has virtually ceased since April
- FTAs are having contracts ended or only offered short term extensions
- Members at Balham face redundancy rather than redeployment
- Transition sites remain under threat of closure
- Staff are being transferred to work on Brexit
- There are increasing restrictions on leave and requests to change working patterns
- Members in UC have taken strike action over staffing
Massive cuts since 2010
In January 2010 the DWP employed 121,656 staff. Today the DWP employs 79,295 staff, a cut of 42,361 in the last 9 years. The recent National Audit Office report adds evidence and shows that the DWP has cut its staff by 24% since 2012.
Tell us how many more staff you need
Responses we have received from branches call for many more staff and all responses are in line with the mood and evidence at the members' meetings. If your branch has not replied yet please send your response to Leeds@pcs.org.uk Your reply does not have to be too technical or lengthy, just tell us your members' feelings about how many more staff they need to deliver proper public services.
Based on the feedback received so far it is clear that a figure of around 20,000 additional staff is needed if we are to deliver the service our members aspire to and the public needs.
London hit hard
There are particular problems in London where the employer is set to move much work out of the capital potentially leading to redundancies.
The GEC has given full support to members in Balham, who face potential redundancy due to their office closure, and in Stratford, who have been moved onto Brexit work and agreed to fully integrate the particular problems of staffing and office closures in London into the GEC national campaign activity.
Transitional sites and office closures must be opposed
The unconfirmed closure of “Transitional sites”, across the country, pose a further threat to member’s jobs and public services. In line with conference policy the GEC will continue to oppose office closures and work closely with branches that include transition sites to campaign for their future.
The GEC has campaigned against the office closures from day one. The campaign launched after the PLP announcements was both political and industrial, and it should be remembered that the then GEC supported an industrial response on every occasion the members showed a willingness to take action. Whilst the strikes in offices such as Sheffield (Eastern Avenue), Whitley Bay and Hoylake didn’t stop the closure of those sites the action was overwhelmingly supported and alongside our political campaigning, we were able to reverse the decisions to close offices in Bishop Auckland, Barrow-in-Furness and Glasgow (Castlemilk).
GEC agrees campaign plan
Against this background the GEC agreed to 18 recommendations with a view to:
- Ramping up the campaign for better pay for DWP members, including holding pay day protests at the end of November.
- Immediately launching a campaign for an extra 20,000 staff in DWP.
- Stepping up our campaign against office closures and working with branches with transitional sites to build our response.