The latest news on PCS' campaign to defend offices, jobs and services.
PCS members at Plymouth Old Tree Court benefit centre have voted to strike on 6 November in protest at the plans to close the benefit centre. An overwhelming majority of members voted in favour of striking with 76.9% supporting the strike.
All DWP branches are asked to give full support to the members at Plymouth Old Tree Court, send messages of support, take collections and send donations and, if they can, turn up at the picket line.
Old Tree Court office houses both a job centre and a benefit centre. Originally the whole site was to close. But successful campaigning by the Devon branch led to the job centre now staying open and the members there are consequently not involved in the strike ballot.
No to redundancies
The 230 members in the benefit centre however have been told they must relocate to another office in Plymouth. However, due to the geography and the transport connections of the area, a large number of members will not be able to relocate to the proposed new office as it is well outside reasonable daily travel from their homes. This has left a significant number of members at risk of redundancy.
To further inflame the situation DWP have decided to move other DWP staff, from another Plymouth office, into one of the floors being vacated at Old Tree Court, in the full knowledge that by doing so they were putting other staff at risk of redundancy. PCS members feel betrayed by the department and have shown how strong their feelings are by voting to strike in such large numbers.
By keeping part of Old Tree Court open, DWP will not be able to recoup significant savings and so there seems little financial advantage in continuing with the closure of the benefit centre, especially if you take into account the costs of likely redundancies. DWP must be made to see sense and to reverse the decision to close Old Tree Court benefit centre.
Support the Campaign to keep Old Tree Court open
The GEC fully supports the members at Old Tree Court and asks all DWP branches to do the same. This strike is part of the wider DWP Group campaign to defend offices, jobs and public service. This has seen members at Sheffield Eastern Avenue take 26 days of strike action already this year and they have now embarked on a further four weeks of strike action from 23 October. There have also been strikes at Hoylake and Whitley Bay job centres.
Messages of Support and donations
Messages of support should be sent to email@example.com. Donations should be sent to PCS DWP Group, 3rd floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS28LY.
Reps and members are encouraged to make regular donations to the PCS Fighting Fund to support this and other future disputes. The suggested donation is £2 per month. For details of how to set up a donation please see this link.