Thursday, 19 June 2014

Britian needs a pay Rise

PCS have launched a new pay squeeze calculator, for members to see what their level of pay should be if it had kept pace with inflation.

To check how much you have lost because of the government pay freeze go to -

The calculator considers the effect of the government's pay and pension policies on the value of civil servants' salaries.

All public sector employers imposed a pay freeze on their staff; either in 2010 or 2011.

The government introduced a 2-year pay freeze in 2010 and has limited public sector pay increases to 1% for all public sector workers. Prices have been rising faster than pay. This means that pay has fallen behind the cost of living. This calculator illustrates the extent of the fall in the value of wages.      
The calculator looks at all these factors, including the impact of government pension contribution increases.

Shocking figures
Branches have already started running pay surgeries using the calculator and members have been shocked by what they've learnt.

One rep Rachel said: "I did the calculation and was shocked to find out that I was abour £6,000 worse off over the last 4 years."

If you're feeling angry about what you've learnt then vote yes in our consultative ballot calling for joint action on pay with other unions. It takes less than a minute to cast your vote by phone or online.

We would like to hear from you, send your calculations to

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

All PCS members in Steria/SSCL

To All PCS members in Steria/SSCL
29 May 2014

Update on talks with SSCL
No compulsory redundancies
Vote YES for action

Ballot for industrial action

PCS will shortly be balloting you for strike action. We need to increase the pressure on SSCL to ensure that all of you who want to remain employed can do so.

We want them to:

  • No forced compulsory redundancies

  • Relax the deadline of 31 October 2014 to enable staff to properly consider voluntary redundancy terms and to find continued work through redeployment

  • A two year delay before any office closures which will be the full term of the transformation plan so that staff can maximise all opportunities for re-deployment.

The ballot will start on Friday 30 May and close on Wednesday 18 June 2014. Please make sure that you use your vote and post your ballot paper back straight away.

PCS members working in the Ministry of Justice Shared Services are also threatened with privatisation and will be balloted at the same time as members in SSCL.

What we have achieved so far

PCS has always opposed the privatisation of shared services. By a combination of negotiation and your support for the strike on 25 October 2013 PCS achieved:

  • Protection of your pension

  • No sites to close for at least a year and an additional special commitment that the Alnwick and York Defra offices will continue to operate as they are for at least 20 months after transfer

  • A “Redeployment Protocol” for DWP, DEFRA and HMRC that has now extended to several other government departments to help staff get a job back in the civil service.

What SSCL plan to do

On 3 March SSCL announced proposals to cut 500 jobs through the closure of sites in Sheffield, Cardiff and Leeds by 31 October 2014, reviewing work and reducing staff at other sites and off shoring the equivalent of about 200 jobs to India.

PCS has opposed the job cuts, office closures and off shoring. We organised a parliamentary briefing for MP’s and a full debate in the House of Commons to put political pressure on SSCL.

In negotiations since March PCS has successfully persuaded SSCL to run a voluntary exit scheme before the voluntary redundancy scheme and to extend voluntary redundancy to give staff more options and more time to look for redeployment. PCS has also persuaded the Cabinet Office and SSCL to include more government departments in the redeployment protocol.

Despite protests from PCS, however, SSCL have insisted on pressing ahead far too quickly and with a much too short timescale for the voluntary exit and voluntary redundancy schemes. This has created an atmosphere of ‘panic exits’ and left many staff without the information they need to make an informed decision.

Their operation of the redeployment protocol has been too slow. The civil service jobs vacancies website has been impossible for SSCL staff to access and use. So far only 6 staff have been redeployed (Sheffield ex-DWP staff have found alternative work in the nearby Dearne Valley DWP Debt Management office).

PCS has demanded that SSCL agree to a two year delay before any office closures which is the full term of the transformation plan. This would allow more time to properly sort out information for staff genuinely wanting to leave and also maximise the opportunity for re-deployment for those staff in Cardiff, Leeds and Sheffield who want to be redeployed to avoid redundancy. PCS has put this forward as a reasonable way of avoiding compulsory redundancies. SSCL have refused and insist on ploughing ahead full speed and closing Cardiff, Leeds and Sheffield by the end of October.

To make matters worse, the Cabinet Office, rather than acting in the interests of former DWP and Defra staff, has threatened penalty clauses should SSCL not vacate the premises by the deadline. They are also, because the Government are party to the contract, insisting that these cuts are made by 31 October. Furthermore the Government has given the go ahead to a merger with Sopra with no regard for the possible consequences for members in SSCL.

Compulsory redundancy notices

As a result staff throughout SSCL are being rushed into snap decisions on their future and much worse; PCS members at Cardiff and Sheffield now face the real and imminent possibility of being given compulsory redundancy notices.

At a meeting with SSCL on 29 May 2014 PCS were informed that it is now the intention to commence one to one meetings with all staff in Cardiff and Sheffield who have not signed up to the voluntary exit/redundancy schemes put on offer at those sites. Those meetings will commence on 2 June 2014 with the intention of issuing compulsory redundancy notices on
1 July 2014. SSCL have stated that the Cabinet Office is comfortable with this approach. PCS is appalled at this and urges all members to ensure that they enlist the support of a trade union representative to accompany them at their one to one meeting.

The only concession that SSCL were prepared to make was to extend the exit date to 31 December to enable staff to exploit the potential of any vacancies that may arise. However this is at the expense of VR/VE terms and only CR terms will remain on the table. This runs completely contrary to the Cabinet Office job protocols which is about avoiding compulsory redundancy at all costs. For those of you who want to keep a job you will need to consider your options very carefully and speak to a union rep as soon as possible.

Make a united stand

PCS have done everything possible by negotiation. We have won concessions but it’s not enough. PCS is completely opposed to privatisation, job cuts, office closures and the off shoring of work. This is why we have now taken the decision to ballot for industrial action across all sites where we have PCS members employed by SSCL. No one is safe. Your site and job may not be at risk right now but we have to fight for protections for all those threatened with compulsory redundancy now and to protect members who remain working for SSCL whose jobs and terms and conditions may be at risk in the future; don’t forget the transformation programme will be spread over two years. We need you to vote yes to up the pressure on SSCL management to gain the protections we need for members.

Vote YES to protect jobs and services. Make sure you return your ballot paper by noon on 18 June  Save our Shared Services

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Paul Blomfield MP Letter

Report of PCS meeting with Steria/SSCL

30 April 2014
To all PCS members in SSCL

Report of PCS meeting with Steria/SSCL 24th April

PCS are continuing to campaign against the privatisation of shared services, job cuts, site closures and off shoring. The union is also pressing SSCL to get the best arrangements possible for staff in terms of Voluntary Exits, Voluntary Redundancy and redeployment.

Union Meetings
Another round of meetings will be held with PCS members in the next couple of weeks. Please attend the meeting at your office.

Voluntary Exits
When we met them on 24 April SSCL told PCS that the latest position on Voluntary Exits was –

Expressions Going Current predicted
of Interest to quote headcount post exit

Blackpool 79 62 224 162

Cardiff 85 85 105 20

Newcastle 72 35 208 173

Sheffield 195 195 239 44

Leeds 3 3 7 4

Alnwick 17 12 36 24

York 56 51 152 101

MyCSP are currently processing exit quotes which should start to arrive with staff by the middle of this week. Quotes are being assessed in batches. Staff will then have two weeks to accept/reject their quote. If staff believe that there is a financial miscalculation, the clock will stop whilst they challenge the quote.

The majority of leaving dates will be between end of July and end of October. Some may be earlier or later by mutual consent.

SSCL/Steria is still seeking advice about the rights of staff leaving on VES/VR schemes to state benefits.

Voluntary Redundancy
SSCL told PCS that there had been 136 expressions of interest for VR as of 23rd April 2014. The closing dates are –

  • Closing sites 30th April 2014.
  • Centres of Excellence 14th May 2014.
  • Alnwick separate review

In response to strong concerns from members about being rushed to accept redundancy, which were expressed by PCS to SSCL, they agreed to consider extending the closing dates. We will update members on this once we know more.

Ten AO’s at Sheffield have been offered posts to move back into the DWP in the Dearne Valley Debt Centre.

The Crown Prosecution Service, Prison Service, MOD and Home Office have now signed up to the redeployment/re-appointment protocols. PCS want all government departments to sign up to the protocols to give you the most chances of redeployment and a job in future.

The Prison Service has four AO vacancies available in Cardiff Prison. A site meeting is being set up to advise staff.

The Crown Prosecution Service has one EO vacancy at York.

The Ministry of Justice currently have fourteen permanent AO posts available in Newport and the Cabinet Office is pushing for them to be open to SSCL staff. PCS members should be very cautious about applying for these jobs because MOJ are next in line for privatisation and it could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.

SSCL have agreed to consult PCS about the transformation programme.

Transition of Opthalmic Payments to Alnwick is moving on a phased basis from June 2014. Work is to be absorbed without any increase in current headcount. VES outcomes for staff at Alnwick will be placed on hold pending the National Primary Care Services bid outcome being resolved in May 2014. As soon as we know more we will update members in Alnwick.

Threat to AA job roles
SSCL agreed to consult PCS about the future business model which strips out AA jobs. The union will be seeking to protect AA’s.

Pay 2014
The SSCL chief executive agreed to negotiate with PCS about your 2014 pay increase.

The next meeting between PCS and SSCL will be on 1 May

Letter of Solidarity Freedom Ride

 Public & Commercial Services Union
Sheffield Headquarters Branch

Dear Comrades

I would like to convey this branch’s wholehearted support for your campaign of action against the cuts to concessionary fares. For many people, public transport is their only means of travel, and low fares are essential to ease the financial burden. Any reduction in the availability of concessionary fares is yet another attack on ordinary working people.

It is our belief that public transport should be taken out of the hands of the profiteers and returned to the public sector for the benefit of all, rather than lining the pockets of the few.

Please keep us informed of this wonderful campaign and if there is anything practical we can do to help in any way please get in touch.

In Solidarity

Martin Hickman
Sheffield PCS HQ Branch Secretary

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

News from Paul Blomfield MP Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

For Immediate Release

8th April 2014

Paul Blomfield MP to accuse Prime Minister of "empty words" over Sheffield jobs to be moved offshore

In a debate in Parliament tomorrow Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, will accuse the Prime Minister of empty words over the loss of 239 civil service jobs in Sheffield. Mr Blomfield has secured a debate following the announcement by SSCL, a private company part-owned by the government, that they are shutting the Department for Work and Pensions office at Kings Court.

In a letter to Mr Blomfield the Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has all but confirmed that the work currently done in Sheffield is to be moved off-shore. In January the Prime Minister told the World Economic Forum that he wanted the UK to become “the re-shoring nation” and that the Government would work to brings jobs back to the UK from abroad.

Speaking ahead of his Westminster Hall debate on the Shared Services job losses Paul Blomfield MP said:

In January the Prime Minister told the World Economic Forum that he wanted the UK to become “the re-shoring nation” to bring jobs back from abroad. He even set up a new body called ‘Reshore UK’ to do this. Now the Government is letting a private company take an axe to publically funded civil service jobs in Sheffield and move the work out of the country. Unless urgent action is taken the Prime Minister’s statement will be seen as nothing more than empty words.

Ministers have treated staff disgracefully and dishonestly. Last year they refused to tell me how many jobs would be moved offshore under this privatisation contract, now they’ve all but confirmed that the work lost in my constituency is to be off-shored. I’ll be pressing Ministers to commit to arrange for Reshore UK to meet with SSCL and the Cabinet Office to consider how these jobs can stay in the UK.”


Notes for Editors

  1. DEBATE: Paul Blomfield’s debate on ‘Shared Services Job Losses’ will take in Parliament in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 9th April at 11am.
  2. SSCL CONTRACT: In November 2013 the Government handed a lucrative contract ‘worth in excess of £1bn over 10 years’ to a new private company Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL). SSCL is 75% owned by the private firm Steria and 25% owned by the Government.

  1. In March 2014 SSCL has confirmed that three of its sites – Cardiff, Leeds and Sheffield – will close later this year with a loss of over 500 jobs in total. 239 jobs will be lost in Sheffield with the closure of the DWP office at King’s Court. They have also refused to rule out further cuts and office closures in future.
  2. On the day before the privatisation took place – 31st October 2013 - SSCL agreed a six month no compulsory redundancy agreement and one-year guarantee of no site closures. SCCL are "honouring" to the day by closing the three sites on 31 October 2014.


  1. In January David Cameron made a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos on the opportunities of re-shoring jobs back to the UK. The Prime Minister said “there is a chance for Britain to become the “Re-Shore Nation” and that we must “act now to seize the opportunities of re-shoring”.
  2. Francis Maude’s letter to Paul Blomfield (31st March) says:

Regarding the possibility of work being sent overseas, it is vital for SSCL to be competitive in the long term, maximising job creation. SSCL needs to be line with other companies of this kind, which often see some non-customer facing transactional roles being sourced offshore.

A copy of the letter is attached.


  1. SCCL handles the sensitive personal and confidential data of tens of thousands of civil servants in the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency. Shared Services provide corporate services for IT, human resources management, pay and payroll, procurement, and finance.
  2. In the debate Mr Blomfield will raise concerns about how this sensitive data will be handed securely if the work is moved offshore.

 Contact details

For further comment or information please call Paul Blomfield MP’s office on 0114 272 2882.

Parliamentary Questions

Shared Services Connected Ltd – Westminster Hall – 9 April 2014

I’ve sought this debate on behalf of 239 DWP staff at the Kings Court offices in the heart of my constituency.

But I’d like to start by citing the words of the Prime Minister.
Back in January, speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos, he said that Britain had the potential to become the “reshore nation”

If I can quote him directly, he said that “There is now an opportunity for the reverse,” said Mr Cameron on offshoring. “There is an opportunity for some of those jobs to come back.”
And shouldn’t the Government be taking a lead on this?
Setting the example through its own employment policies?

Yet last week I received a letter from the Minister for the Cabinet Office, replying to one from me, all but confirming that the work lost in my constituency was to be off-shored.
Let me explain the background.

Shared Services are those parts of individual civil service departments, Arm’s-Length Bodies and agencies that provide corporate services for IT, human resources management, pay and payroll, procurement, and finance to deliver their business outputs.

In December 2012 the Cabinet Office set out its Next Generation Shared Services Strategic Plan.
This aimed to create five shared service centres. Two Independent Shared Services Centres (ISSCs) 1 and 2 would be formed of a number of departments and ALBs. The remaining three to be standalone Centres based on the Ministry of Justice (covering MoJ, the Home Office and National Offender Management Service), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The first of these Independent Shared Service Centres (ISSC1) was based on the Department for Transport shared services centre in Swansea. As well as providing corporate services for DfT ISSC1 also covers the DCLG, the Treasury, DCMS and DfID.

ISSC1 was outsourced to German multinational Arvato in June 2013.
The Public and Commercial Services Union, representing the majority of staff, engaged positively in the transfer process to secure the best possible outcome. This consultation led to agreements which included a ‘no compulsory redundancy agreement’ for at least a year and that staff would retain their civil service status.

ISSC2 was to consist (initially) of the Shared Services functions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Environment Agency.

This was turned into a “Joint Venture” company called Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) in which the Government retained 25% of the shares ownership, with the French Multinational Steria’s UK subsidiary (Steria UK) owning and controlling 75%.

The creation of SSCL involved civil service shared services sites in York, Alnwick, Cardiff, Blackpool, Newcastle – as well as the one in my constituency in Sheffield.
SSCL became “live” in November 2013. 1,000 civil servants were privatised and TUPE’d across.
PCS secured agreements with the Govt including - a six month no compulsory redundancy agreement and one-year guarantee of no site closures.

However, on 4 March 2014 SSCL announced 500 job cuts, office closures and the off-shoring of work.

As well as Sheffield, by October 2014, the DWP office in Cardiff will close with a loss of 105 staff and the Environment Agency office in Leeds with a loss of 68 staff.

I met some of the staff from Cardiff last week. Like those in Sheffield, they are loyal civil servants, who’ve contributed years of public service and feel betrayed.

In other SSCL offices, 68 of 222 staff in DWP Blackpool will go, 13 out of 209 in DWP Newcastle will go, 6 out of 86 staff in Peterborough and 35 out of 150 staff in Defra York.

The Defra site in Alnwick, Northumbria only has a temporary reprieve with staff being told that the site is secure until June 2015. The future of the site after that is dependent on SSCL/Steria sending more work there from NHS SBS (the NHS shared services organisation). If Alnwick closes it is very difficult to see how the staff there will find alternative work nearby given the rural location.

The government has not conducted Economic Impact Assessments of the closures of offices in SSCL. The closures of these offices or loss of jobs would have a severe impact on local employment and on UK growth. Will the government be conducting such an assessment and if so, when is this likely to happen?

The speed at which SSCL intend to cut 500 jobs is unprecedented. They aim to have all redundancies dealt with by the end of October – exactly one year after the transfer of staff. This does not allow enough time for staff to be re-employed or reinstated back into the civil service and means that compulsory redundancies are likely.

Indeed the staff in Sheffield, and also Cardiff, told me that the redeployment opportunities have been limited, because there is no joined-up approach across Govt – with most other Govt Departments not offering vacancies to those losing their jobs.

Does the Govt think that this is the right way to treat staff? Particularly those who have given decades of public service?

Will the Minister commit to providing redeployment opportunities across all Govt. Dept’s?

SSCL are not acting in accordance with the special commitments given to the staff before transfer ...... which stated that transformation would take place over a two year period and everything would be done to avoid compulsory redundancies.

The government has a 25% stake in SSCL. Should it not use that position to challenge the speed of job cuts to allow a thorough on-going programme of redeployment of staff?

If I can now return to my opening point .....

What makes these cuts even harder for staff to swallow is that all of the work for the 3 sites under threat of closure has been earmarked for being off-shored. Currently SSCL intends to off-shore 200 jobs.

PCS tell me that SSCL have explicitly told them that deciding on what sites are to close is determined by what work can be off-shored.

How does this fit in with the Prime Minister’s assertion at the Davos World Economic Forum in January that he wants the UK to become “the re-shoring nation”?

There’s also the issue of the data being handled.

Civil servants based at these sites handle the personal data of tens of thousands of civil servants. They also deal with commercially sensitive information relating to government contracts and tendering.

Despite the sensitivity of the data dealt with, when the Cabinet Office advertised for bidders to become majority partners in SSCL in April 2013, all selected bidders has a significant element of off-shoring jobs and functions as part of their bids.

And the concerns about off-shoring aren’t restricted to the staff.
They’ve been raised at Cabinet level.

The Secretary of State for the Environment wrote to the Minister for the Cabinet Office last July raising concerns about Defra joining ISSC2 and a “possible staff exodus”.

He asked for a stand still period on “estates and off-shoring.” And he raised concerns about data security.

In June 2013 Lynn Phillips, Head of Service Improvement for DEFRA, wrote to the then DEFRA Minister, the Rt Hon Member for Somerton and Frome to raise concerns that bidders for ISSC2 had all suggested off-shoring.

She informed him that the DEFRA Executive Committee considered “significant (or any) element of off-shoring” to be unacceptable, and that there was “significantly increased risk to service continuity from loss of current expertise” upon transfer; and also pointed out the plan’s “incompatibility with UK growth objectives” because of the “loss of jobs in regional locations”.

She also raised concerns about “employee and detailed financial data transmitted, stored and processed outside the UK”.

Why is this government sanctioning job losses, office closures and the off-shoring of sensitive personal data and commercially sensitive information?

As referred to earlier, the remaining three shared service centres were to be standalone. However, the strategic plan has now been fundamentally revised. Peter Swann, who heads the Crown Oversight Function of the Shared Services agenda, has confirmed that that MoJ are now considering transferring its shared services to one of the outsourced ISSCs instead.

If the MoJ was to join one of the already outsourced ISSC contracts then the sensitive data they handle, including criminal records, the details of police, the judiciary and security service personnel could also be privatised and even off-shored.

Why has the strategic plan been changed?

In conclusion, let me return to the words of the Prime Minister.
At Davos he underlined his ambition for the UK to become the “re-shore nation” by announcing the establishment of a new body - Reshore UK - to sit within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Will the Minister commit to arranging for Reshore UK to meet with SSCL and the Cabinet Office with the aim of considering how the jobs they plan to offshore, can stay in the UK.
If not, will he accept that the PM’s statement will be seen as nothing more than empty words?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014




Monday 28th April
8:00 - 10:00am

Outside Sheffield Employment Tribunal Office
14 East Parade, Sheffield S1 2ET (Next to Sheffield Cathedral)

Why are we protesting?

Lee Rock is a trade union activist in the PCS Union, in the Department for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre Plus).

He was sacked for ‘unsatisfactory attendance’, on 22 February 2013. In the period 27 September 2011 to 26 September 2012 Lee was absent on sick leave for 11 days. This was exactly his sickness absence limit. This is supposedly the reason he has been dismissed.  The facts are:
  • Lee has two long-term underlying health conditions - Crohns Disease (35 years) and Depression (at least 15 years).  Both are accepted by the employer and OHS as being covered under the Equality Act 2010 as disabilities;
  • He had successfully completed a six-month Written Warning and was in the backsliding period for sickness when he hit his consideration point of 11 days;
  • He was then referred to a Decision Maker (DM) for consideration of dismissal.  In this referral to the DM mention was made of my trade union activities;
  • There were a number of procedural issues regarding me being denied the opportunity to present my grievance in person concerning the referral;
  • On 1st January 2013 Lee took Partial Retirement on health grounds to help him manage my 
    absence levels.  The employer agreed to this;
  • Lee was dismissed by the employer. At the time of receiving his dismissal letter he had in the previous six months been absent due to sickness for a mere 2 days.  He had in fact had no absences for the previous 3 months.  And in the rolling 12 months he was 4 days below my consideration point;
  • In 27 years of representation we have never come across a dismissal - where someone with only 2 absence days in 6 months has been dismissed on sickness grounds.
  • Since then, Lee’s case has been ongoing. DWP management have banned Lee from all DWP premises nationally, with no reason given – we have no knowledge of this having ever happened with another sickness related dismissal.
  • Management were clear that Lee would no longer be allowed to represent our members. A recent tribunal case was settled in favour of Lee and against DWP, and Lee is now allowed to represent members (though he is still banned from DWP sites) – this will form part of our case that it is victimisation.
  • DWP have now said that even if the case falls in Lee’s favour, they will not reinstate him. PCS believe this is unacceptable and will be challenging this.
We are clear in our view that Lee would not have been dismissed for this level of   sickness if he was not a well-known TU rep who has been a thorn in management’s side. Our concerns are supported by the fact that his trade union activity was unnecessarily and inappropriately referred to in the recommendation for dismissal.