Call handlers in Wolverhampton and Walsall who take calls on Universal Credit are set to strike for two days next month, claiming that the Department for Work and Pensions treat them with “contempt” and citing serious staff shortages and massive workloads.
The strike, which will take place on March 11-12, will involve 274 staff according to the PCS union, who said that an overwhelming 90% of staff voted for the strike having been treated with “utter contempt” by the DWP.
The Mirror reports that PCS says staff are working under conditions of “severe under investment, staff shortages and criticism from claimants on how they are treated,” and are asking for an additional fleet of 5,000 new staff to help call handlers deal with fielding calls regarding Universal Credit.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, told the Mirror: “The message from our members is clear – changes need to be made otherwise they will walk out for two consecutive days.
“The union has tried to negotiate for months but to no avail.
“Ministers have stuck their heads in the sand and our members are now sending them a very loud wakeup call.
“PCS members have not taken the decision to strike lightly.
“But the fact is industrial relations have broken down because ministers seem intent on running this service into the ground while treating staff with utter contempt.”
A DWP spokesperson told the newspaper: “This result is disappointing, we greatly value the work that our colleagues do and our top priority remains assessing and making payments to customers. We are comfortable with current staffing levels and will monitor and reallocate resource where necessary.
“Contingencies are underway to ensure the smooth running of our services to minimise any impact. We urge PCS to seek to resolve this through further dialogue.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine