14 December 2021

President’s column

As this is the last president's column of the year, it is traditional to reflect on the past 12 months and look at the work we have done in the group as well as some of the issues faced by you, our members, over that period.

I will start by saying how pleased, indeed proud, I am that this is a very special edition of Voice. In a year when racism and prejudice have once again headlined the news, most notably, following this summer's European Football Championships and following the recent tragic deaths in the English Channel, PCS has been working hard to support our black members in dealing with the fallout. A recommendation by our black members’ committee (GBMC), following Black History Month, that an edition of our group magazine be given to them to contribute articles was unanimously passed by the group executive. All the articles in this edition - with the exception of this, the tribute to one of our fallen comrades, and the Editor's column - are written, or heavily contributed to, by members of the GBMC. Just as the national union has joined forces with campaigning organisation Care4Calais, to take the Home Office to court over the inhumane policy of turning back boats in the Channel, the timing couldn't be more appropriate. PCS policy is clear, we stand for the rights of people to live without fear of violence and oppression, and for them to be safe and secure, no matter their colour, ethnicity, or country of origin. We oppose racism, bigotry and xenophobia in any form and will continue to campaign alongside community activists until this disease is removed from our society.

Articles in this edition will focus on some of the key issues currently facing you in the workplace and everyday lives. From the national campaign on pay, pensions and the cost of living crisis to the difficulties faced by outsourced workers in DWP; from the threat of redundancy faced by our members in Cosham to the dangers a return to the workplace would create right now, you can read how PCS is dealing with these crucial matters.

It would also be remiss of me not to highlight the appalling pressure and risk being placed on our Jobcentre members right now. The drive by DWP to push face to face delivery at all costs is driving perverse behaviours across the Jobcentre network. Recent group briefings have highlighted in detail the myriad of problems reported to us and offered advice to our members across the different grades. Equally as the UK government's introduction of "plan B" gets under way, our front facing members rightly ask the question why, when other workers are being given extra protection and allowed to work from home, are they expected to push even more face to face activity, placing themselves, their families and customers at such risk? PCS will continue to campaign against both the pressure placed on members and the increased risk they face, at the highest level, while working with members and branches to challenge these unacceptable dangers.

The recent success of the union in securing nearly 6,000 permanent AO jobs for FTA staff and our finally convincing DWP to implement the devolved governments’ Covid-19 working from home advice, are good examples of what we can achieve when we work together.

That just leaves me to thank you all for your continued membership of PCS and the support you continue to give your union. The last twelve months have once again been a challenge for us all, but you have shown the service you give to some of the most vulnerable in society is absolutely vital as economic struggle bites hard.

You have delivered above and beyond, in the most testing of periods, over the last 20 months or so. It is time your employer and this government rewarded you properly for that work alongside other key workers. The national consultative ballot early in the new year will give us all the platform to show the government and DWP that they have to deliver or face your backlash.

2022 will inevitably throw up new challenges, but your GEC is ready to respond and I know you will be too.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the festive period, and to all our members I hope you have a happy, peaceful and safe break from work.

Martin Cavanagh
PCS DWP Group President