PCS will ask DWP members whether they are prepared to take industrial action over the government’s insistence that jobcentres extend their hours until 8pm on weekdays and fully open to the public, despite the very real danger of a second Covid-19 spike.
We represent tens of thousands of civil servants working for DWP who have been working flat out over lockdown, supporting claimants to access Universal Credit, benefits and employment support.
However, with ministers insisting jobcentres should open to the public including past normal office hours without consulting the union or doing a proper risk assessment, PCS has decided enough is enough.
A consultative or indicative ballot is where the union asks it members whether they are prepared to take industrial action. A further statutory ballot will have to be held and reach the 50% turnout threshold for any strike action to go ahead.
Mark Serwotka said: “This is a damning indictment of the government’s back to work policy. It is galling that ministers would try to force our members to keep job centres open till 8pm, increasing the amount of claimants and fully open jobcentres to the public when DWP has been functioning well with people working from home, assisting claimants to access support.
“Worse still, by not consulting the union where we could work together to find a safe way forward, the government have shown utter contempt for DWP staff who have been working hard to support people during this terrible pandemic”.
“It is an egregious error of judgement by ministers and now our members will decide whether they want to take steps towards industrial action, something which this shambolic administration could have avoided.”
Recent reports suggest that there could be a second spike in Corona cases with many towns in the North of England starting mini lockdowns.