STRIKE action is spreading against government plans which could lead to the closure of 68 jobcentres providing help and advice to unemployed, sick and disabled people. Fifty members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) at Eastern Avenue jobcentre in Sheffield will strike for two weeks from Monday.
The jobcentre serves one of Sheffield’s most deprived areas.
Jobseekers and community groups in the city are backing resistance to the closure and will join picket lines. Staff previously staged two weeks of strike action in June and July.
Elsewhere, a demonstration will be held outside Whitley Bay jobcentre today ahead of a strike next Thursday and Friday, while workers at Hoylake jobcentre in Merseyside will strike this month.
PCS says closing the Sheffield office would remove a vital public service and force claimants to travel much further for the services they need to find work. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will join PCS’s national president Janice Godrich and Labour MP Hugh Gaffney at a demonstration in Coatbridge in Scotland on Friday, August 25, against a jobcentre closure there.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has sent a message of support to the Sheffield strikers. The Hayes and Harlington MP said: “The Department for Work and Pensions has forced through this office closure programme with no consideration for either the service or the staff.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We will continue to fight to save jobcentres that provide a lifeline for unemployed, sick and disabled people.
“It is utterly disgraceful that this Tory government is abandoning our communities.”