Management in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are imposing a three year pay deal on staff in their November pay-cheque. This is because they believe that staff want money for Christmas, which is true, but we must not be fooled into thinking short-term. The pay deal is being hailed as a great offer by management who, in an unprecedented move, have been putting pressure on local managers to promote the deal and sell it to staff.
This is only helping to push members into voting yes for industrial action. Members working for the DWP in Jobcentres, Benefit Offices, the Pension Service and Child Support Agency (CSA) have already borne the brunt of the government decision to axe 80,000 jobs in the civil and public services. They are angry over the imposition of this three year pay offer, which sees cost of living increases for longer serving staff members of 2% this year, 0% next year and 1% in the final year. The pay offer averages just 1% a year over the three years and sees approximately 40% of staff getting 0% next year. This offer does nothing to improve the cost of living for some of the lowest paid workers in the civil service, who don’t even earn enough to meet the European Decency Threshold, which in 2006 was £7.40 per hour. Many members working in the DWP have to claim in-work benefits such as Tax Credits, which the government put in place to help remove the property gap in society.
The strike ballot within DWP comes as PCS nationally enters into ‘meaningful talks’ with the Cabinet Office in an effort to reach a negotiated agreement to a civil service-wide dispute over jobs, pay and conditions. These talks were only offered after 68% of members in the national consultative ballot voted for national strike action as part of the union’s campaign, which has already seen two strongly supported national one-day strikes this year.
The result is a clear demonstration of PCS members’ resolve to reach a fair settlement with senior civil service management and the government over jobs, pay and conditions. If these talks fail, then national strike action will take place.