Universal Credit staff in Glasgow to continue strike over ‘oppressive working conditions’
The UK government’s flagship social security programme has been dogged by delays and allegations of money squandered on IT.
Staff have complained about a lack of resources, an oppressive management culture, inadequate training, hard to reach targets and staff shortages.
Almost 1,500 workers (95 per cent of members) at the two original service centres in Bolton and Glasgow, where more than half of all universal credit staff are employed, walked out yesterday to begin a two day strike.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union represents around 80 per cent of staff at the centres that process claims to Universal Credit and take enquiries from claimants by telephone and online.
The dispute is over the imposition of new conditions, including predetermined start and finish times and severe restrictions on flexible working.
In a recent ballot, 84 per cent voted for strikes and 90 per cent voted for other forms of industrial action on a 56 per cent turnout. The two-day strike will be followed by industrial action short of a strike until mid-August.
The union has not ruled out balloting its members at the other universal credit sites in Bangor, Basildon, Dundee, Makerfield and Middlesbrough.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, said: “The introduction of universal credit has been a textbook example of how not to reform essential public services, and the DWP’s handling of every aspect of it has been disastrous.
“These harsher working conditions must be withdrawn, they simply heap more pressure on staff who have battled against poor IT, inadequate training and a lack of resources.”
PCS Scottish secretary, Lynn Henderson, added: “The DWP’s handling of every aspect of Universal Credit has been disastrous for the public and for those who have to work on it.
“We are delighted with the high level of support and solidarity shown to our members. PCS stands with recipients of universal credit against this conditionality and this shambolic government policy.”
After the two-day strike there will be action short of a strike for 4 weeks, running until 18 August. This will include an overtime ban.
A DWP spokesman said: “Universal Credit is already transforming lives with people moving into work faster and staying in work longer
“Only a small minority of universal credit workers will be taking part in strike action.
“The fact is staff are already administering universal credit in almost 50 per cent of Jobcentres, and feedback shows they feel supported and confident in delivering this major welfare reform.”