DWP staff working at two Universal Credit Service Centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton are to stage further strikes this week, over mounting concerns about workloads and poor working conditions.
The two-day walkout follows industrial action earlier this year, which saw around 274 Universal Credit call handlers adandon their desks and take to the picket line, accussing the Government of treating workers with “contempt”.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) say the recent announcement that Wolverhampton will become a national telephony site has further angered staff, who are struggling to cope with an ever-increasing workload as Universal Credit is rolled out across the UK.
PCS are calling on the DWP to hire 5,000 new staff and limit the number of phone calls per case manager.
They also say the DWP should limit the size of the national telephony hub for Universal Credit, improve consultation, and introduce a “quality-focused approach” to replace the practice of “management by statistics”.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told the Press Association: “Our members who work to support some of the most vulnerable members of society will not put up with DWP management ignoring their real concerns over staffing and under-investment.
“This strike will be part of sustained campaign of action which could spread to other parts of Universal Credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiators to discuss workers’ concerns.
“Our members care passionately about the work they do and the people they support.”
“However, they cannot stand idly by while ministers make the job of supporting claimants impossible.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the PCS in Walsall and Wolverhampton has taken this course of action.
“Supporting our customers remains a priority and contingencies are in place to maintain our services.
“Our frontline staff deliver vital support to around 20 million people across the country and we are committed to supporting them in their roles, including by monitoring staff levels and making sure their caseloads are manageable.”
PCS members working at the two Universal Credit Service Centres will strike over two days on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 May.