Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary slams Department of Work and Pensions over management incompetence

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has the “worst public sector management team” in government, according to Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today, Serwotka called the DWP’s management strategy “one of the best examples of how not to do things”.

And with HR very much in mind, he added: “The DWP has the worst public sector management team we’ve ever had to deal with. It has no confidence in the workforce. No other government department has had to deal with 14 national strikes in the past four years.”

However, he acknowledged that HR professionals were stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to working in the public sector.

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Listen to Serwotka’s comments on HR’s role from last week’s HR Directors Club briefing

PCS Union chief Mark Serwotka“Is the role of HR increasingly to say that some of the things that you’re being asked to do is demoralising your workforce in such a way that it is not in the interests of your organisation?”

He said HR professionals were often victims of politicisation and forced to advocate policies they did not agree with.

“I don’t hold HR people responsible for all our ills,” he said.

“HR people are often victims of the government’s changes, having to adapt their role to deliver political targets. The trust in Civil Service management is being taken away.”

And, in a rare moment of contrition, Serwotka reassured Civil Service HR professionals that he understood their plight. “I admire the difficult job that many HR people do,” he said.

He also condemned the tactic of bringing in expertise from private companies, which undermined existing public sector employees.

“Many public sector workers feel more demoralised and less valued now than they did in Thatcher’s time,” he said.

The PCS represents 325,000 employees in government departments.

A spokesman for the DWP acknowledged there was a problem, but insisted that the department was tackling it.

He said: “It is understandable that staff have concerns as we take forward our ambitious programme to transform the way we work.

“However, recent staff surveys have shown that confidence among staff is improving.”

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