PCS members have taken five days' strike action this week in their dispute over the proposed closure of the Eastern Avenue jobcentre.
Members have been out in force on the picket line outside the Eastern Avenue jobcentre every day this week, protesting against its proposed closure and the removal of the vital services that it provides to the public.
On Tuesday, the striking members were buoyed by the support shown at a rally the previous evening, where PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka spoke to give the support of the national union and shadow chancellor John McDonnell sent a message of support.
The picket line was visited each day by members of other local PCS branches, associate and retired (ARMs) members, DWP group executive members and PCS national executive committee members. Disabled People Against the Cuts, representatives of other unions and members of the local community who will be affected by the closure of the centre also attended to show solidarity and protest against the closure.
Alistair Tice, of Unison Community, visited the picket line on the fourth day of the strike on Thursday. He said "These workers are not striking for more money, not even for their own jobs, but to keep a local service open to one of most deprived areas in Sheffield."
On the last day of this week's action, members of the picket line were given moral support in the form of cakes from a Sheffield branch executive member, which helped warm the spirits of members on a chilly morning.
Keeping up the pressure
PCS DWP group president Fran Heathcote wrote to the DWP yesterday (Thursday) stating “PCS calls upon the department to withdraw the programme of office closures in DWP at the earliest opportunity.”
Fran said, “It is our view that the new government does not have a mandate for the extremely controversial and damaging plan to close 75 jobcentres and 40 back offices sites. Our union will continue to support the fight to defend services in Sheffield and elsewhere and demands that the government now ends all plans to close offices.”
How you can help
- Messages of support should be sent to Leeds@pcs.org.uk
- Tweet using the hashtags #saveourjobcentres #noofficeclosures
- 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
- A Crowdfunding site has also been set up to raise funds for the striking members.