PCS is campaigning hard for all of our members to be converted into permanent staff.
PCS is campaigning hard for all of our Fixed Term Appointment (FTA) members to be converted into permanent staff. Ever since early last year when DWP decided to recruit FTA staff in large numbers, PCS protested against that decision. We have taken every opportunity to tell management our clear view that all staff working in DWP should be permanent members of staff.
The increase in the numbers of fixed term staff in DWP has been unprecedented. There are now around 15,000 FTA staff in DWP. This is a far higher number than DWP has ever employed before. Most of the FTA’s are in Jobcentre Plus but there are also significant numbers in other areas like Shared Services. CMEC/CSA also relies increasingly on FTA staff.
No Two-tier Workforce
PCS has always fought against the use of FTA staff rather than permanents. The use of temporary and FTA staff leads to a two tier workforce with some members enjoying better job security than others. This is unacceptable to PCS. We speak both for FTA members with no job security and for members who would be left short-handed if the FTA’s left. Over many years the union has had an excellent track record of persuading DWP to convert FTA staff into permanent staff. There are numerous members who began as temporary, casual or FTA staff but who subsequently were converted to permanent as a result of PCS pressure.
FTA members a key priority
With so many PCS members on a FTA contract now, it is a key priority for PCS to ensure that these contracts are, at least, extended and ultimately made permanent. Already we have a guarantee that Jobcentre Plus will honour the existing contracts of FTA staff. But that is not enough.
PCS is currently discussing with management arrangements for how existing FTA contracts may be extended beyond their current end dates. While our preference remains strongly for FTA contracts to be made permanent, it is significant that DWP is starting to accept that they will have to extend at least some of the FTA contracts. It is plain to everyone that they need to do this to avoid the organisation collapsing when the current FTA contracts end. In some DWP offices there are as many as 40% of staff on FTA contracts. This is a completely unsustainable situation that DWP needs to resolve as a matter of urgency. The additional pressures on DWP staff and offices caused by the recession have not gone away. There has been no decline in work volumes and unemployment is predicted to continue to rise throughout 2010. The additional staff recruited in the last year are needed now more than ever.
Some FTA Contracts Extended – PCS Pushing for All FTA’s to be extended/made permanent
PCS has been pressing management hard to announce proposals to extend FTA contracts and this pressure has started to produce results. Recently management announced that they had extended the contracts of some FTA’s beyond their expected contract end date. PCS is pushing for all FTA’s to be able to apply for contract extensions wherever they work in DWP. While management may want to target offers of contract extensions to particular areas, where they have the highest numbers of FTA’s, PCS will continue to argue that any future opportunities are made available to all FTA staff.
The current headcount pressures make this a very unsettling time for FTA staff, particularly in Jobcentre Plus where there is a complete ban at present on extending any FTA contracts. Once the headcounts and staffing budgets for the next financial year are known we will have a clearer idea what scope there may be for extending FTA contracts.
Parliamentary and legal campaigning
In the meantime PCS is raising the issue of FTA staff in parliament with MP’s, asking them to ensure that they too bring pressure to bear on DWP to extend and make permanent the FTA contracts. We have made clear to MP’s that the services provided by DWP will collapse unless the department changes its policy and agrees to retain the FTA staff. PCS is writing to the Jobcentre Plus minister Jim Knight to ask him to intervene and the Chair of the PCS Parliamentary Group of MP’s will be sending a similar letter to the Minister. In addition PCS is taking legal advice to ensure that members know and understand their legal rights as FTA staff.
PCS is committed to fighting for the interests of all its members. There is no issue more important than the job security of our members. Defending job security is central to the national union’s current campaign on the Civil Service Compensation scheme. Our FTA members can be assured that PCS will do whatever we can to defend their jobs and argue strongly for them all to be made permanent.
In order to maximise the pressure that will make our campaign for permanent posts for FTA’s successful, it is essential that all FTA’s join PCS and get fully involved in the Civil Service Compensation Scheme campaign to ensure greater job security for all PCS members.