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ROUND AND ABOUT
While the troops hunker down for another war of attrition on the DWP front another battle is raging over pay amongst the serried ranks of the IR & Customs cutting across the left/right divide.
In August the consensus between the Revenue and Customs was to reject Management's offer. Though the pay offer had been slightly amended, if anything it was even worse than what had originally been on the table. In an unguarded moment even the departmental senior national officer, FRANK CAMPBELL admitted that the offer was "crap".
There was little debate as it was agreed to send all the points in writing to the pay negotiations team. As CATH COLDBECK was on leave her place was taken by JIM HARROW so the team consisted of Frank Campbell, Andy Thomas, Dave Bean, Jim Harrow, Steve Ryan, Doreen McNeil and Simon Boniface.
A major stumbling block was Management's proposed "jobs protocol" which would effectively allow overtime working even though an overtime ban would be the section's first resort if the pay talks failed. The Customs people are mainly drawn from Lunity's allies in the PCS DEMOCRATS bloc and they had, by now, warmed to the offer, seeing that this was the best they could get and regarding the overtime issue as an advantage.
There is, of course, a political dimension to the overtime question. FRANK CAMPBELL suggested that it was a question of who we wanted to be in charge of HMRC - DAWN PRIMAROLO or DAVID VARNEY. The Paymaster General is against office closures and outsourcing but she needs to sort out the New Tax Credits mess which will require a lot of overtime. Therefore rejecting the jobs protocol would effectively be giving her a slap in the face. "Was this a good idea?" he asked.
At the first set of GEC meetings held in late September to discuss pay, the Joint GEC was still split with Customs in favour and IR against. A majority of the Revenue bloc wanted to reject on the basis that the offer included a return to individual performance related pay, non consolidated pay awards to those on their max, and acceptance of more strings than can be found backstage at the Muppet Show .
So the meeting ended with no agreement. Among those against the offer were DAMIAN CARR, leader of the short-lived "independent" right-wing PROGRESS faction (see PFL's passim ). Though DAMIAN is ineffectual and utterly useless, he struck as chord this time round with support coming from Revenue left and a couple of other "Independents" who normally toe the MAD MONK'S line. SIR LESLIE and his good wife were conveniently absent on this occasion.
Four days later the GEC were recalled at very short notice to discuss what they thought was an improved offer. When they got there they found same offer on the table. They had flown people in from around Britain to discuss the exact same offer in an attempt to change some people's minds. The cost of one flight alone to attend the meeting exceeded £300. At the meeting FRANK CAMPBELL read the riot act about how foolish they were beginning to look, and at how the Department had made known their intention to go over the heads of the GEC and put the offer to staff. Mr BEAN then declared that he would go around the table and ask for GEC members' views as well as the reasons why. Several did this before one of them questioned Mr BEAN as to what he would do. Apparently they are still waiting for his position to be declared, though he is alleged to have told CRUMBLE that he could "deliver the left", whatever that means. Again the meeting ended with no agreement.
A week later the GEC were then recalled again, this time to discuss a slightly different offer. This time the left argued that they couldn't accept the offer because it still contained all the things they had campaigned to be rid of. They were asked or rather ordered to go into a side room by FRANK and to come out with a plan of action that could win a dispute. They went away to do this, but while in the meeting IAN "Flash" LAWRENCE came into the room, an argument broke out, and FLASH threw a floppy disk at them. The disk apparently had the details of the proposed campaign plans, though why he threw it is another story. We understand that Mr BEAN has lodged a formal complaint about LAWRENCE 's behaviour to the GENERAL SECRETARY.
At the end of the meeting, this time the vote was 21-9 to recommend acceptance of the offer. The official position is that discussions are ongoing. But the truth is the agreement to recommend a yes has been reached and they are still talking to PRIMAROLO only to try and get more cash in at the scale max to sweeten some of the old timers.
DWP Management have broken the cease-fire with a renewed attack on CARCASE activists. NICK DIAMANTIS (local, branch, district & regional rep) is now in the firing line for daring to make a robust defence of a member during a disciplinary case. The Management lackey, a shrinking violet, took exception and launched an equal opps complaint. The minutes of the meeting, taken by another woman, do not show that anything untoward was said. The harpy claims she felt intimidated, but she had the minute taker with her who did not complain. GROVELMANTIS is shortly due to be posted to the same office, a large building over 7 floors, and the Management tool now says she fears she might meet him on the stairs and other such arrant nonsense. Management are pressing ahead on trumped up charges against OLD NICK. Members in local branches have been informed of this via a PCS circular and are said to be unamused by the local management stance, whose evidence is, to say the least, brittle. And amid all the mayhem, all local DWP Managers seem to be concerned about is sending out crib sheets to get brownie points from the "mystery shopper" snoopers hired by the Department to check on front-line "customer relations".
Talking about the CARCASE, the "Cockney voice of Barnsley " LEE ROCK attended TUC Conference in September as part of the PCS delegation. He was less than impressed. Writing in the Weedy Wanker he moaned that
I take it this is his first visit to TUC or he'd know what to expect. This dignified silence routine has always impressed me by its childishness - it's the equivalent of a huff, and is treated the same way. It's a hangover from the BARRY days of heads down and don't frighten the horses, Civil Service being politically neutral blah-de-blah-de blah.
If we don't agree with something we should say so, loudly . What are these lefty wannabe leaders of the revolution afraid of -- their own shadows?
As the CV of Barnsley observes, there have been missed opportunities to doorstep two senior Government politicians.
Q. Why didn't ROCK go it alone or at least attempt to pigeonhole BROWN & JOHNSON?
A. So that he can stay on the Big Tent slate for next year's TUC.
Q. And for what purpose? If it's the talking shop where you can only listen (or maintain dignified silence), then PCS might just as well send a bunch of semi-literate cannon fodder.
A. Oh, they did.
Canis timidus vehementius latrat quam mordet
A timid dog barks more violently than it bites.
Quintus Curtius Rufus