PCS members striking against the closure of Whitley Bay jobcentre were outraged as DWP managers decided to start clearing the office of furniture while they picketed outside.
No staff crossed the picket line on the second day of the strike and more than 25 pickets and supporters outside the jobcentre were shocked that management had decided to start clearing the office ahead of its closure this afternoon (18).
The jobcentre is one of more than 100 local jobcentres and back-of-office sites threatened with closure and again today there was good support for the strikers, who had been out in number yesterday. Local deli Dicksons again gave out bags of baked goodies to the pickets and among the local supporters was a retired teacher concerned about the ability of future generations to find a job.
PCS is campaigning alongside local Labour MP Alan Campbell to keep the jobcentre open. We are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to reconsider its decision and to guarantee the long-term future of vital public services in Whitley Bay. Our members at Whitley Bay voted unanimously on a 100% turnout to strike today and tomorrow (18) as a last resort to save the jobcentre.
Many staff will now have to relocate 3 miles away to North Shields and claimants face a bus journey to sign on which will cost them about £6, with a risk of sanctions if they are late. The government claims that claimants will not be out of pocket, but in truth some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the area will have to pay the extra cost of travelling to the nearest office in North Shields.
We believe closing the jobcentre will be detrimental to many unemployed and vulnerable people in the area. The closure will also affect the local economy and efforts to regenerate the town.
Many local services have already been moved out of towns like Whitley Bay, forcing the public to travel further to access vital services they need.
What else can you do?
- Sign our petition against the closure of Whitley Bay jobcentre
- Keep up to date with the national campaign against closures
- Support the picket lines at the jobcentre (NE26 2LY)
- Donate to the PCS Fighting Fund to support striking members.