PCS members at Hoylake jobcentre on the Wirral will be taking strike action on Friday 25 August in an attempt to save the office which closes the same day.
The closure of Hoylake jobcentre from 25 August comes as part of the DWP's nationwide office closure programme. There are over 100 offices at risk of closure altogether, many by March 2018, with over 800 members of staff at risk of redundancy.
The jobcentre in Hoylake has been an important part of the local community for over 20 years, providing an important service to those claiming benefits and seeking employment. Although a small office, with only seven staff working there, those who use the service are now deeply worried at what it means for them.
The PCS members working at Hoylake share the concerns of the public, and the local community has responded with hundreds of signatures already collected on a petition to save the jobcentre. These signatures include local residents and a number of local businesses which depend on the income from people working at and using the jobcentre.
While the staff will be inconvenienced by a move to Upton, they are clear that the risk to members of the public who use the jobcentre is far greater, and this is the reason PCS members have voted for strike action. Most customers now face a longer and more expensive journey every time they visit the jobcentre. Many have to sign-on weekly, with the prospect of two bus journeys, at an extra cost of £4 each time they make the round trip, and the extra journey time increasing the risk of delays and missed appointments, making the threat of sanctions a very real possibility.
At particular risk will be customers with health and disability issues, many of whom have seen Hoylake as a "refuge" compared to other larger, busier offices, which they will now need to visit.
Martin Cavanagh, chair of DWP Wirral PCS branch, said: “The decision to close Hoylake is a disgrace which risks forcing already vulnerable people further in to poverty and at risk of sanction. There can be no justification for making access to our services more difficult for those who need them, and making them pay extra travel costs out of already meagre finances. The campaign will continue until this decision is reversed.”
What you can do
- Send messages of support to Martin Cavanagh at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit the picket line at the jobcentre on 25 August from 7 a.m.
- Keep up to date with the national campaign against closures on the PCS website.