Following their rejection of a three year pay offer that will see 27% of staff in the Department of Work and Pensions staff get consolidated rises of 2% in year 1, 40% get 0% in year 2 and 49% get 1% in year 3, PCS and Prospect have met with DWP bosses for further talks.
Another meeting is taking place as we go to press, with the PCS DWP executive meeting on 27 September “to receive a report of these talks and take decisions on the next stage of our campaign.” (The Retail Price Index rate of inflation — PCS’s preferred measure — rose to from 3.8% in July to 4.1% in August.)
It is not clear yet what will come out of negotiations and, if this is unacceptable, what action the union’s DWP executive in will call.
Some senior managers, already on annual salaries of up to £63,510, are set to receive bonuses for performance of £1,785 whilst the majority of admin staff and first line managers on salaries between £12,340 and £23,510 get annual bonuses of between £115 and £200.
Not only are civil servants falling behind other groups of public sector workers, pay in the DWP compares badly with other government departments. The maximum an Administrative Officer can earn in 2010 will be £17,780. Yet in Revenue and Customs AOs now can earn up to £18,305. This rises to £23,534 in the Ministry of Defence.
This graphically illustrates why one of the national union’s campaign demands is so important, a return to national pay bargaining and a driving up to the best rates in the civil service.
Which brings us to the national campaign. The National Executive have just concluded a consultation exercise where members stated we need more action to achieve our demands. It is likely that the NEC will call another one day strike before the end of the year, possibly around some political event, such as the Queen’s speech on 6 November. The NEC are keen to link up with other unions in dispute. Now that local government workers are being balloted for a two day strike in November, there are possibilities of joint action. Despite having a legal mandate to call further action, PCS is calling another consultative ballot.
It seems that the NEC have held the consultation exercise and now the ballot to fill in the gaps between the one day strikes (the last strike was held on 1 May, some five months ago). Independent left supporters have called for selective action in key areas such as DWP contact centres, passport offices etc. to be funded by a national levy of all members to fill in the gaps between the national strikes.
Sporadic one day protest strikes as a strategy are unlikely to win our demands.