DWP call centre workers in Scotland go on strike

Jobcentre staff that work in Scotland call centres and field benefits enquiries are now on strike claiming that work conditions are poor where they are. Staffs at centers located in Paisley, Glasgow, and Dundee have joined a UK action that includes over six thousand of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members.

According to the union, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff members are struggling with shortages resulting in unrealistic targets and very rough working conditions for the current staff members. The DWP claims that the strike is not necessary and as a result will have a limited impact.

The telephone and benefit processing service was just revamped in October of 2009 by the DWP. Scotland staff members took part in a two day walkout that took place in January after a decision was made to convert seven of the processing offices into ‘contact centres’ with staff being reassigned and told that they will now be responsible for taking calls from the public. Staff members did not like the reassignment of duties and since this original dispute it has now broadened to affect staff members at 32 different sites stretched out across the UK.

Derek Thomson, the PCS Scotland spokesman stated that these attacks on the working conditions impact all PCS members and also impact the type of service that is actually provided to the people that actually need to use the services.

He added that members want to provide reliable and efficient service to the public but cannot do so when the employer is more interested in meeting unrealistic targets. The union also stated that flexibility had resulted in arbitrary levels that might favor short calls over those who get stuck on calls that take a bit longer to reach a conclusion.