Acas staff urged to vote in favour of strike action
Workers at non-departmental public body could walk out over office closure and other changes
Staff at conciliation service Acas are being balloted over potential strike action in connection with a list of grievances including the closure of an office, downgrading of work, and a "remarkable" lack of meaningful consultation on the part of management.
The PCS union said its members at the non-departmental public body, which is sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, were being asked for their views on both strike action and protests short of downing tools – with the leadership backing the toughest stance.
It said that the service, which had 726 permanent staff at the time of its last annual report, was “severely under-resourced” to deal with a significant increase in casework following a High Court decision about the removal of fees for some kinds of claims against employers.
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Other concerns include the closure of the service’s Liverpool office, the “unagreed downgrading of conciliation work”, equalities issues around the removal of particular grades of work from London by 2019, and a lack of development and training opportunities for staff.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said management had consistently failed to consult meaningfully with the union to find a workable solution.
"It’s quite remarkable that Acas – the government body charged with conciliation between trade unions and employers – should have gone to these lengths to avoid proper consultation with its own staff,” he said.
“We remain open to resolving this dispute by negotiation, and hope we can recommence talks with Acas management shortly. In the meantime I urge every member to vote yes for action to strengthen our negotiators.”
He said PCS was demanding that Acas provide a properly-resourced, funded, graded, trained, and regionally-based conciliation service.
An Acas spokesman said the organisation was disappointed that PCS was calling for strike action.
“We have worked hard over recent months to listen to their concerns and tried to reach a resolution to our differences but unfortunately these efforts have not been successful,” he said.
“We have consulted extensively with PCS around the issues they have raised and we have offered further talks. We are recruiting to fill vacancies on our helpline and we have created new jobs across Acas’ conciliation service.”
The PCS ballot closes on March 16.
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