Members in the Plymouth Old Tree Court Site were informed in January 2017 that their site would close. Following a vigorous campaign by the members and reps in the Devon branch a partial closure was confirmed in June, where the jobcentre would stay open but the staff working in the working age directorate would relocate to Clearbrook House in Roborough, some distance away to the north of the city. It was quickly clear that relocating to this site would present serious mobility issues for many members working at Old Tree Court. After the 1-2-1 process the branch believed that there was a serious risk that 50 members of staff could be made redundant.
Members in the Plymouth Old Tree Court site balloted members for industrial action in October with a resounding 76.9% voting in favour. The turnout was easily sufficient to meet the legal threshold of 50% set by the government to make it as difficult as possible for trade union members to take strike action.
The branch have maintained the principled position that there was no need to close the site. Members at Old Tree Court were incensed when following the announcement of the closure of the upper floors where WAD colleagues worked, that FES colleagues would be moved to the 3rd floor at Old Tree Court from Devonport jobcentre.
Members took a single day of strike action on 6 November. This was followed by a further 2 days on 22 and 23 December. The strike was overwhelming supported by the 250 members on site. There were magnificent picket lines attended by large numbers of members from Old Tree Court and supported by full time officers and members of the GEC. Messages of solidarity were sent by DWP branches from all over the country and from other PCS Groups, as well as from the Plymouth Trades Council.
On 22 December, Jerry Crowley the branch secretary paid tribute to the members and the support saying: “Devon branch regard the strike action as a huge success that sends a very strong message. We remain completely opposed to the relocation of this workplace and the looming threat of compulsory redundancy”.
Following the successful action the numbers of staff still facing compulsory redundancy has reduced significantly. The GEC has a proud record of fighting and preventing compulsory redundancy and will continue to fight alongside the branch to ensure that no one in Plymouth is made compulsorily redundant.