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My wife worked for the DWP and Jobcentre Plus for over 10 years and was a member of the PCS Union from the very start. My wife has a recognised disability of which there is no cure and requires permanent daily medication.
Following a bout of absence that lasted over 6 weeks the department pushed for a return to work date threatening a review of my wife's position if she did not supply a date. This went on further with a recommendation for dismissal with compensation which was later changed to voluntary ill health retirement without my wife's consent I may add. The application for retirement was signed off by a senior manager.
The PCS union actually supported this stating they thought it was the best option for my wife to be retired and draw her pension at the age of 35 which is unbelievable.
Due to the lack of support from the union we sought independent legal advice and issued an official grievance. The grievance was handed to the branch secretary of the union who held onto it for three weeks before hand delivering it to me wifes senior manager. On handing over the official grievance my wifes senior manager back dates the termination of employment by a month to enable her not to answer the official grievance and put a hold on the proceedings.
All of this ended up in an employment tribunal which took 18 months to be heard with constant delays and reschedules.
My wife's union rep wrote a statement for the tribunal that showed that the senior line manager lied on six different counts of her sworn statement. Unfortunately the PCS union rep would not respond to requests to attend the hearing to support my wife and stand by his statement. We even called the chairman of the PCS union in Leeds to intervene but he stated that all reps are volunteers and they cant be forced to attend.
The judge of the hearing on the very first day asked where the union were and if they were going to attend. Our legal advice was such that we were told my wife had such a good case regardless of the union we would be okay but it would have been better with them being present.
As a result of them not attending my wife's senior manager was allowed to swear under oath and lie unchecked. My wife lost the case as a consequence and is now retired with a permanent disability at the age of 35. The DWP used my wife's pension money to get rid of her and end her career.
My wife ended up in hospital on four separate occasions as a result of the departments treatment and lack of procedure as it took over a year before my wife was finally sacked.
Our advice is be very careful who represents you take independent advice if you can and consider going through the courts instead of the tribunal service. The PCS union like to grab headlines and try and change policy but when it comes down to the individual they are very lacking. The fact that the PCS union supported the ill health retirement along with the DWP and that was used against my wife in the hearing demonstrates that you are not entitled to disagree with a decision if you are disabled and have no equal rights whatsoever.
Very Very Poor from the start and throughout the only consolation is she does not have to put with the prejudice and constant bullying with the Job Centre plus attendance management process. The department has a blanket policy for everyone sick or disabled so beware of the PCS and there advisers.
Working as I do in the public sector I have been within my office environment for over 5 years now and in that time I have had some bad experiences within the company but with PCS on my side how did it go?
Well, I am not going to go into too much detail but my case was one whereby I was off work sick due to feeling bullied by my boss and my health had deteriorated to the point I was on Beta blockers and my doctor would not allow me back to work in the same team.
I spoke to PCS to ask for representation and was provided with a union representative who met with me before I was to attend meetings with HR and we went through all of the issues the company had with me and the ones I had with the company and I was glad to hear the union rep be so positive about me and trying to help me feel that I needed to focus on my health firstly and that they would help to get HR to work with myself and the union to get me back to work as soon as possible.
Over a period of weeks the PCS rep worked with HR and managed to get me a move (I am glad to say I have remained in the same position since then which is over a year ago now).
I have now got another meeting coming up with my HR department due to sickness as I have had 2 sicknesses in the last year and with this on the back of my previous issues I am having my sickness record monitored so I was glad to see the union so willing to help.
Once again I have met with my union representative and gone through the sicknesses and any health reasons that maybe underlying and am working with them to put together a case for when I do meet HR but even just having them there during this stage has been great so when I attend the HR meeting and have someone there specifically to help me it makes me feel slightly more relaxed and a lot more assured.
Overall PCS have been a huge help and with free 24 hour legal advice availabe as part of my membership not to mention a compensatory scheme whereby if I have loss of wages for any reason I can claim these from the PCS and they will investigate if I should be reimbursed (which on my previous sickness I did and I was).
At a cost of less than £10 per month this is truly worth while to be part of as if you don't need it now your membership fee helps others and when you do need it they are there for you.
If, like me, you work in the public sector, and in an office, you'll more than likely have heard of PCS. If you are a member then you'll no doubt have at least some idea of what they do. If not, then it's something certainly worth considering joining.
I'll keep details vague because so much varies from department to department. What is cosistent though is what they do and stand up for. In the department I work for there are branches and representitives work from within there. I find that because my overall department is quite small I find would find my representitive fairly approachable should I ever need help.
Basically they will stand up for you provided you have a legitimate greivance, and work to resolve it. If there's a set of events that land you in trouble or in conflict with your employer, PCS can be approached as an intermediary to resolve it and or fight your case for you.
News on your area is sent down through the branches and then distributed via emails and newsletters. This keeps you up to date with all of the news relating to pay and rewards and any legislation which might affect your pay or employment contract. Information relating to PCS members as a whole is sent via a magazine called "View" which gives information on developments at a much higher level and is sent to your house direct.
One thing PCS are really good at is arguing your case during pay review time. they'll enter negotiation with the government and really fight your case for a pay rise. If its not acceptable then ballot papers are sent out to approve or reject it so it's a fairly diplomatic and democratic process.
One other benefit with membership is the benefits you get. This ranges from cheap car insurance to discounts on mobile phone tariffs. Because PCS is so huge, it's a good way for compaies to drum up business and benefits members greatly.
Sometimes however I do feel gthat you can be alienated and not know what's going on. That's due to the size of the government as a employer though and no fault of PCS. I find if I have a mild issue too that, if I mention something that's not too serious but would warrant a reply, it gets left and never answered or no response for months and its left for me to chase. I think thats down to my branch though and is not a reflection of PCS as a whole.
Overall it's better to be in it tha out it as you really do get to have a say on where your rights and cotractual negotiatins go, knowig that there's strength in numbers should your employer ever try to treat you unfairly.
Oh, and you get a free diary every year too ;o)