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ROUND AND ABOUT
By Judas Iscariot - Late February 2006

The first rays of sun splash across the poppy fields in no-mans-land and the last weary night patrol stumbles across the parapet for a cheery cuppa and a fag. Dawn across the trenches can, indeed, be beautiful.

But back at Chateau Falconcrest the grandees are working round the clock organising the next big two-day push planned for the end of March.

The February DWP branch secretary's conference was well attended with 80 out of the 110 branches sending representatives to the meeting in Leeds . Despite the freezing cold in the hotel venue, the grandees managed to give the usual rousing pep talks to be passed down to the troops.

PARDOE told his SOCIALIST WANKER paper sellers to cover the hall but gave them the wrong address. They continued to hawk their wares outside another hotel to the bemusement of those who passed them by until PAUL (DAVE) BRYSON went in and discovered that a conference on cancer was taking place. Both the hotels began with the letter M, so it's an easy mistake to make for PCS Lefties (see Judas passim).

They got back in time to hear JOHN McINALLY, who confined himself to reading out the victory statistics and giving a report about the intervention of the DWP Parliamentary Committee. He also intriguingly raised the issue of an overtime ban, arguing that this would be crucial to the campaign and adding that "sacrifice will be expected of members" -- as if we didn't know.

KEITH WYLIE on the other hand mentioned that the GEC believed that a negotiated settlement with Management was possible but gave no indication of what lay behind his apparent optimism.

The next round in the war of attrition will be another two day affair much to the dismay of some of the SOCIALIST CAUCUS who are still banging the drum for selective actions backed by strike pay raised by a £1 a member voluntary levy. It sounds reasonably till you actually do the maths. Even if every member coughed up, which they won't, the amount raised wouldn't cover the cost of pulling out one contact centre.

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While the decimation of the staff goes on all around them DWP Management has been considering a much more burning issue in Jobcentre Plus offices and has concluded on the advice of their "professional design consultants" that it would be "inappropriate to include provision in the Design Vision for the use of piped music". This is apparently because:

1. There is no music type that would be acceptable to all

Tastes in music are diverse, so any individual genre (classical, folk, pop or rock, rap, soul, etc.) has the potential to be annoying to someone, which may exacerbate discomfort, irritation and even aggression.

.2. In-house music systems require constant management

Sound systems that are looped are repetitive. Often radio is used as an alternative, but volume control, choice of station are constant distractions, which will probably irritate some colleagues and customers.

3. Music may increase risk to customer and staff safety

Music will increase the level of noise in an office, not disguise it, and could detract from the quiet calm atmosphere that should be provided. 

4. Music will conflict with the aspirations of the brand

Jobcentre Plus should provide a focused business environment where the emphasis is on interaction, rather than playing music whilst people are waiting.

In other words, no more whistle while you work in the factories. Oddly, they forgot to mention that it would discriminate against those with aural disabilities. Still, Health & Safety has never been their strongest suit. It's annoying that I always seem to miss the advert which says "Grade 5 bullshit copywriter required. Open to all grades, training provided. Must possess a unique sense of irony."

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Back in Newcastle a second post-mortem is taking place over the delay in getting the strike leaflets out because "some one" forgot he had left them in the book of his car as reported in the last issue of the PFL. Big Fat Geordie Bastard JOE COX, strenuously denying he was the culprit, blames KEVIN McHUGH, who he also accuses of pointing the finger at him in the first place.

And according to other Geordies it was McHUGH's belated arrival on the picket lines which meant that he had indeed missed delivery of the leaflets which were in the boot of one MIKE COSTELLO's car.

However, still appreciative of his efforts and in the knowledge that he certainly needs his beauty sleep, the Branch wrote to KEV to thank him for his assistance. Touched by this, MCHUGH decided to go the DWP Union room to convey his appreciation of the letter. Sadly for our KEV he met with ELAINE ANDERSON, known affectionately as the ROTTWEILER within the local branch. ELAINE had just read the PFL article and took out her rage upon the unfortunate MCHUGH.

Showing the bravery for which he is famous, and before the cock had crowed three times, KEV denied all knowledge of the PFL and all its works and denied being the source of the story. 'So how come for such a nobody these days, you're in every bloody issue?' the ROTTWEILLER exploded. KEV's response is not recorded. We should point out that Wor Kevva (IR LUNITY) and the worshipful BFGB (4TM) were actually working together to help a sister DWP branch, and we report their cock-ups as picket-line humour.

i n a week that's seen Danish embassies torched throughout the Islamic world over the cartoon scandal, the Walthamstow Jobcentre is calling for heightened security after Jihadi posters were founded plastered to the front of the office doors. To many this may mean nothing, but in the words of a Muslim PCS member in the office the office," if that were stuck on her front door she would move out".

Is it any wonder that given its litany of woes, DWP PCS members are showing their discontent by taking industrial action?

In war, truth is the first casualty.

Aeschylus (525 - 456 BC)

Greek tragic dramatist