The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is on a collision course with its main trade union after imposing a raft of HR policy changes without its agreement.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which has about 100,000 members in the DWP, has accused management of escalating an already bitter dispute over job cuts and service levels. It is urging its members to send a repudiation letter to HR director Kevin White “rejecting these attacks on our basic rights”.
The HR policy changes, introduced last week, include the shortening of timescales to help the speedier resolution of complaints, reducing unpaid special leave and using attendance management records for decisions on internal appointments.
The union said the new policies made it harder for employees to complain and easier for staff to be disciplined and sacked. It claims management withdrew from talks before an agreement could be reached.
In a letter to members, David Burke, group assistant secretary at the PCS, said: “We are committed to oppose these unwanted, unagreed and unacceptable changes through collective, legal and political action.”
A DWP spokeswoman defended the changes. “The improved HR policies are intended to be simpler, clearer and more concise, allowing issues to be resolved more quickly and easily,” she said. “They have been developed in discussion with managers and staff. We talk to trade unions, including the PCS, on an ongoing basis about HR policies.”
The PCS has held a series of strikes this year protesting against government job cuts and what it says are “deteriorating service levels” in the department.