The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 7th June 2019

Universal Credit battles

by New Worker correspondent

WORKERS AT Walsall and Wolverhampton Universal Credit service centres have taken part in a two-day strike where members of the rank-and-file civil service union PCS are fighting for more staff and better working conditions.

Two days of strike action took place in March. Since then the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has refused to enter into discussions, forcing PCS members into taking further strike action last week. The union said strike action will have a serious impact on other DWP Universal Credit sites and DWP should now come to the negotiating table prepared to address seriously the concerns of the members responsible for introducing the controversial welfare reforms.

The union has five main demands: it wants 5,000 new staff, permanency for fixed term staff, a limit on the number of phone calls per case manager, a limit the size of the national telephony hub and improve consultation with a quality-focused approach, which means no more management by statistics.

PCS is currently consulting members in other Universal Credit sites, a move that could lead to the strikes spreading to other offices.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members who work to support some of the most vulnerable members of society will not put up with DWP management ignoring their real concerns over staffing and under investment.

“This strike will be part of sustained campaign of action which could spread to other parts of Universal Credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiators to discuss workers’ concerns. Our members care passionately about the work they do and the people they support. However, they cannot stand idly by while ministers make the job of supporting claimants impossible.”