For DWP Vice President
I am truly grateful to have been given the privilege of representing PCS members as a Vice President of DWP Group for the past electoral year, and I am once again seeking your support.
We are living in extraordinary times, the whole of society has been riding a wave of uncertainty and fear for two years whilst government has fumbled and stumbled its way through unchartered territory. As Covid-19 guidance came and went, as the R-rate climbed, reduced slightly and rose again, as the employer pushed for members to return to the office, and refused front facing workers the opportunity to work safely at home, I have stood along side my Left Unity comrades, full square in front of the employer and negotiated protective policies on your behalf.
I have been proud to sit on this Left Unity led GEC for many reasons, one of which is to have the ability to use my experience to influence debate. Decisions are made around that table that affect all of our members so it is important to ensure when voting in elections that you vote for the reps you trust, those you believe will vote for the policies and recommendations required to challenge the employer on your behalf. It is not hard to imagine DWP’s intransigence as they made wilful attempts to put government diktat before our members’ wellbeing; but despite the brick walls we faced, I worked with comrades on the logic and strategy required in negotiations to win in areas such as staffing, where 96% of our AO FTA’s were made permanent – we continue to campaign for all – and where 200 Brooke Street staff were brought in-house to enjoy the same pay, terms and conditions as the colleagues they are working beside.
Along side my Left Unity comrades, I have been instrumental in building protective policies for members both in the workplace and working from home, and ensuring that DWP adhere to their legal duties under the Equality Act 2010 (EA2010). I have pressed for Equality Impact Assessments for every change of process and for the employer’s adherence to the Public Sector Equality Duty. This is a prerequisite for each push to return to the workplace, as I had to press on DWP in each event, so that both our members and customers with protected characteristics can be kept safe from Covid-19; the equality assessments also provide recourse to take legal action should DWP fail to comply.
I was further instrumental in demanding fit for purpose equality training, having long pressed for the removal of unconscious bias training. We have now negotiated mandatory equality training with a yearly refresher which will bring into place accountability for failure to comply. As ever this must be policed by your union and I am hoping members will give me the mandate to do this on your behalf.
As personal case advice also falls under my remit I have supported many members with their complex cases, up to and including Employment Tribunal. My understanding of the EA2010 and our members needs, coupled with my negotiating ability has seen many members provided with reconstructed job roles and adjustments which have allowed them to remain in employment.
I have supported branches that were suffering health and safety crises due to pressures of work inducing work-based stress, and serious mental health detriment. DWP were forced to intervene and address the issues. Senior managers in those offices now have stress reduction plans high on their agenda. Having led on negotiating the DWP BAME Risk Assessment, with the impending return to the office, through negotiation I have now had DWP reaffirm their commitment to protecting our members via this important Covid-19 mitigation process.
Although we have made gains with the BAME RA, there is still much work to do in the area of race discrimination and I continue to tackle it on both levels; the indirect racism with the tick box policies that fail to provide real and meaningful support and opportunities for Black members, and the direct racism from team members and customers with racist ‘banter’ and actions, and senior Grades that fail to deal with the severe impact felt by members on the receiving end of that abuse.
Sitting as we do under a Tory government with a Tory complicit employer, we have achieved some real gains for members this year, but it is clear there is still much work to do. I am therefore asking for members to vote for myself and all members of the team below so that we can continue to build sensible strategies that can win for you, to work on the issues that matter to you within our own Department, and also to work with the national union to build for a massive campaign to win for you better pay to help you manage the real cost of living, and to bring an end to the pensions theft that has seen us hundreds of pounds a year worse off.
Please vote Left Unity!