Union warns universal credit strikes could spread

28 May 19
Strikes over universal credit workloads could spread to other parts of the country, a union has warned.

Universal credit staff from the PCS union in Wolverhampton and Walsall are striking over excessive workloads and demanding the government hire more staff.

Strikes began today and will continue until tomorrow following previous strike action in March.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members who work to support some of the most vulnerable in society will not put up with Department of Work and Pensions management ignoring their real concerns over staffing and under investment.

“This strike will be part of sustained campaign action which could spread to other parts of universal credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiations 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.”

The PCS has made several demands including: employing 5,000 new staff, limiting the number of phone calls per case manager and limiting the size of the national telephony hub.

The union said that it was consulting with members in other universal credit sites, which could lead to strikes elsewhere.

Pete Hamer, a PCS representative at Walsall, said: “The strike action today has again been very well-supported by members and similar levels of support are expected tomorrow. DWP should take notice and start to deal with the members’ issues.”

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."

A DWP minister announced last week that he will investigate a case of universal credit fraud.

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