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ROUND AND ABOUT the DWP Pay Dispute
by Judas Iscariot - January 2004

The Grand Old Duke of York marched his men to the top of the hill and marched them down again in the nursery rhyme that began as a medieval satirical jibe against RICHARD MORTIMER during the Wars of the Roses. The Lancastrians got the first laugh – sticking a paper crown on Richard’s head before they cut it off – and the last because they eventually won but only after decades of civil war, treachery and factional slaughter.

RICHARD certainly played his cards wrong but he wasn’t foolish enough to march his 10,000 men to the top and then order 8,000 to step down on the strength of a promise of a couple of groats in three months time while leaving the others to face the fury on their own.

But that is exactly what the Left Unity-led DWP GEC did this week in calling off their strike at 36 hours notice.Lunity, backed to the hilt by the Undymen, is putting the best possible spin on their loss of nerve claiming that around £13 million has been added to the pay on offer. What they don’t say is that none of it is new money. £4 million was found from staff that have left since November 2003 (Headcount savings) and £8 million was clawed back from the field (Living Within Budget savings). And how does this latest offer differ from the previous one, and what does it boil down to for the average member?

For AAs, instead of receiving a stage 2 increase of £300 from 1st April 2004 they will get an increase of £385 from 1st May 2004. Instead of £25 per month before deductions they will get £32 per month - except they will only get this for the two months prior to next years pay round instead of for 3 months.

In other words AAs will get £64 before deductions instead of £75, i.e. AAs will be £11 worse off.

For AOs, instead of receiving a stage 2 increase of £400 from 1st April 2004 they will get an increase of £485 from 1st May 2004. Instead of £33 per month before deductions they will get £40 per month - except they will only get this for the two months prior to next years pay round instead of for 3 months.

In other words AOs will get £80 before deductions instead of £100, i.e. AOs will be £20 worse off.

For EOs who were earning less than £19230, instead of receiving a stage 2 increase of £558 from 1st April 2004 they will get an increase of £600 from 1st May 2004. Instead of £46.50 per month before deductions they will get £50 per month - except they will only get this for the two months prior to next years pay round instead of for 3 months.

In other words EOs in this category will get £100 before deductions instead of £139.50, i.e. these EOs will be £39.50 worse off.

Additionally, Management offer talks about tinkering with the the discreditable new appraisal scheme (PDS) - why? If there's nothing wrong with it, as they insist, why do they feel the need to talk, and if it really does deny human rights, we shouldn't be talking about modifying such a deeply flawed product - even the FDA whose grades dreamt it up have voted to reject it, as did DWP PCS members. The dispute is not about money alone, members voted to reject PDS, i.e throw it out in its entirety - it has no grievances/appeals procedure and has arbitrarily set "quotas" of performance markings, and there's no system for progression to the rate for the job.

MARK SERWOTKA is telling people that he personally was opposed to calling the strike off but was powerless to do anything about it and the Socialist Caucus is predictably furious – this time with a great deal of justification. RED BACON, PAULA WALSH and STEVE LLOYD all opposed the decision at the emergency GEC as did PCS Democrat IAN ALBERT (following the correct but not necessarily party line). But the CARCASE is determined not to let the matter drop. And they are still smarting at being expected to back loathsome HUGH LANNING for DGS in exchange for a chance at getting the LUNITY ticket for the AGS vacancy – which is no chance at all as it's already been fixed between the “Socialist Party” TROTS formerly known as the Militant Tendency and Lord Undy’s PCS Democrats.

A few weeks ago LUNITY was baying for the strike. Now their biggies have converted to “moderation”, to the consternation of their ill-informed followers. But it's not surprising really. LUNITY's purpose – or at least that of the former Millies – is to capture positions throughout PCS and win votes for their insignificant party in local and parliamentary elections. They’ve got the ascendancy on the NEC. Now they want to fill every full-time officer vacancy with their stooges and placemen. What they don’t want is strikes that could spin out of their control and lead to defeats that could cost them votes. They need Lord Undy’s support to ensure any easy ride on new full-time appointments and they need his bloc not as they claim to prevent a new united right-wing emerging from the ashes of the Moderati, but to enable them to dump the CARCASE when the time is ripe. Which brings us back to the Wars of the Roses. In those days they said that while the French vice was lechery the English vice was treachery. Perhaps we haven’t come a long way after all.

Something is rotten in the State of Denmark
Hamlet


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