PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions delivered a 77.2% ‘Yes’ vote in the consultative ballot over safety, that ended on Monday 7th September.
The ballot was on the issue of safety, given that the DWP plans to extend the opening hours of Jobcentres and Universal Credit sites in November; a completely irresponsible move, yet one which goes with Cabinet Office demands that 80% of all civil servants are back at work by the end of September.
Members are rightly angry about the reckless attitude of senior management in the DWP and the shambolic approach of this Tory government. The so-called ‘rule of six’ came into force on Monday 14th September; yet this is the same government that has pushed ahead with the reopening of schools and lifted lockdown too early. Workers are now paying the price for this selfish recklessness, with PCS also arguing against the re-opening of Jobcentres to force claimants to attend appointments.
The next step should be to organise meetings with Group Executive Committee speakers to engage members and discuss the response from DWP. Then the GEC should seriously prepare to win a strike ballot and mobilise for action, to ensure that no workers are forced back prematurely into an unsafe workplace. This has to be linked up with the struggle needed to resist the eventual return of the sanctions regime for benefit claimants; all workers and claimants must reject division in favour of solidarity against their common enemy – the government and the bosses they serve.
- No to extending opening hours during the pandemic
- No to reopening Jobcentres until our workplaces are safe for workers and claimants! Unions should decide when it is safe!