John McDonnell sent a message of solidarity to striking DWP members in Sheffield last night, at the end of the first of five days of strike action.
Today (13 June) is the second day of the week-long strike at Eastern Avenue jobcentre in Sheffield, protesting against the Department for Work and Pensions' plans to close the site. There was again fantastic support, with about 50 members taking part in the strike.
Last night a successful public meeting was held at the Manor Estates Social Club, to promote the strike and outline the importance of keeping the vital services the jobcentre provides within the community.
As well as a large number of striking PCS members, members of the public who use the services of the jobcentre also attended the meeting.
The meeting was chaired by DWP group president Fran Heathcote, and was addressed by a number of speakers.
Clare Goonan, a PCS rep who is on strike, thanked members for the solidarity they had shown. Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield city council, said the campaign had the full backing of the council and she also read out a message of support from local Labour MP Louise Haigh.
Jen Jones, from campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, gave a moving speech, praising the support she had received from our members who work at Eastern Avenue, demonstrating why it was so important to maintain local services that are accessible to all.
Defending public services
PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, outlined the importance of defending public services and said that the chances of a successful campaign to keep the office open were dramatically improved by the current, rapidly changing political landscape. He promised the full support of the union for the ongoing campaign.
He also said that he had been in contact with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the dispute, and expected the issue to be raised in parliament. He also read out a text from the shadow chancellor, offering apologies for not being able to attend the meeting and saying: “I send my solidarity to you in support of the action you are taking. The DWP has forced through this office closure programme with no consideration for either the service or the staff. You have my support."
Other unions and the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers' Centre gave their solidarity from the floor of the meeting, and striking members were buoyed by the support that they were shown.
How you can help
- Show your support by coming along to the picket lines outside the jobcentre.
- Messages of support should be sent to Leeds@pcs.org.uk
- Donations to the PCS Fighting Fund should be sent PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY or can be made online via the PCS website.