Regrettably it has not been possible to make sufficient progress to reach an agreement. Consequently the GEC has now called for a 2 day strike on the 7 TPIP sites for 20 and 21 January.
Management remain intent on compulsorily transferring all members on the 7 remaining TPIP sites into the Contact Centre directorate (CCD). This is part of management’s plan to make CCD the contact centre organisation of the future and to take on work from other parts of the civil service. PCS is determined that this should not happen at the expense of members terms and conditions.
If CCD wants to be the best contact centre organisation it should do so by offering the best terms and conditions that get the best out of staff and enable them to deliver the best possible service to the public.
CCD cannot hope to be the best if staff do not want to work there. Currently CCD has the highest rates of sickness and staff leaving. This must change.
What concessions were made in the talks?
From 4th January 2011, members on the TPIP sites are able to arrive for work up to 30 minutes after their scheduled start time. Members will also be able to stay at work up to 30 minutes after their scheduled finish time. There is no additional flexibility for arriving earlier or finishing earlier.
Management retain the right to suspend these arrangements on occasions where they believe the volume of calls is high.
This additional flexibility is subject to a formal review in 3 months before it is made permanent on the TPIP sites or rolled out across CCD. This builds in the risk that management may withdraw the extra flexibility if they see fit, as CCD did with the successful Blackburn pilot last year.
Similar arrangements for arranging lunch breaks will be introduced as currently exist for arranging tea breaks, from 31st January 2011. Instead of lunch breaks being scheduled members will be able to choose a card that will allow them to choose when they start their lunch break. The cards will give members the flexibility to start their lunch break within a 30 minute window rather than at a fixed time.
Unfortunately, as with flexitime, management have insisted that this initiative must also be subject to a review before they will make any commitment to make it a permanent feature in the TPIP sites or roll it out across CCD.
Management have agreed to temporarily import some WARS (Work Available Reports) and to consider whether some more varied work can be imported in the future.
Targets and use of real time management
PCS urged management to ease the way they use oppressive targets like the Average Handling Times. But we were unable to make any progress on the way targets are used in CCD or on the role of the RTO.
PCS gave management many examples of adjustments to the CCD job design that would both remove handoffs and improve job satisfaction and customer service. However management were unwilling to pursue our ideas at present.
PCS pressed for an alternative method for presenting calls to agents that would give agents a degree of control over this. We have established that ending automatic call presentation is technically possible, but management refused to make this change.
When PCS agreed not to call a strike in December, management had agreed to implement some interim arrangements as a sign of good faith while the talks took place. Regrettably they failed to do so and at Manchester Chorlton they went ahead with extending the opening hours until 6pm, despite having previously agreed with PCS not to do this while the talks took place. This was a serious breach of trust by CCD and emphasises why it is essential that any agreements we reach with CCD must be secure and permanent and not subject to reviews or pilots that may result in management deciding to withdraw them.
Support the Strike
The GEC’s view, in consultation with reps from the 7 TPIP sites, is that there is insufficient guaranteed progress here to settle this dispute. Accordingly the decision has been taken to call a 2 day strike on 20 & 21 January, followed by action short of a strike action from w/c 24th January 2011. PCS is urging every member on TPIP sites to support the strike and ensure that management know the strength of your feeling on this issue and force them to make the concessions you need to settle this dispute
Together we can win
All Out 20 & 21 January