When the Department for Work and Pensions announced plans to close 8 of Glasgow’s 16 jobcentres, activists from the PCS DWP Glasgow branch took their campaign out to the community, built support among politicians and talked to the media.
Branch secretary Ian Pope explains:
“We received very short notice that PCS reps would need to be on site at the 8 jobcentres proposed for closure. As 7 out of the 8 were in my branch, I needed assistance from group executive committee members, regional committee officers, branch officers and a full-time officer of the union to be at every site to support members at the time of the announcement.
We went back two weeks later and held meetings in each place. There were no job losses in these cases, but members strongly supported having a campaign to save the jobcentres. What the members were all saying was, ‘what about the claimants?’
They could see there were so many flaws in the plans - for example, the DWP had determined the closures by using Google Maps, basing travel times to the remaining jobcentres on things like bus routes that no longer exist.
We met Glasgow MSPs and MPs (including Chris Stephens, chair of PCS’s parliamentary group) and gave them questions to ask of the ministers. They’ve been a great help to us in this campaign.
We’ve been leafleting in communities and have organised public meetings, joining up with other groups like housing associations, Citizen’s Advice, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), the local trades council and other unions such as Unison and Unite. On this issue we’ve even united the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church.
Staff have been coming along, and we’ve noticed that people who are not usually active in community organisations have been getting involved.
A few people have given our members a hard time because they see them as the people implementing sanctions on claimants, but overall there’s been a good show of unity. We have built up tremendous links in the city to save these jobcentres.
The government is consulting on the closure of 3 of the 8 jobcentres, and we responded to that with a 12-page document that puts up our arguments against the DWP’s rationale for these cuts. In a nutshell, the cuts are a short-term cost cutting measure that will impact our members and will have profound effects for the communities of Glasgow.
If any of these jobcentres close, they won’t re-open so now is the time to fight it. This is basically an attack on our communities. If we are going to win this, it’s going to be on those grounds.”
- DWP Glasgow branch is holding a public meeting on 18 February, from 11am-1pm, Adelaides, 209 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HZ
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
- Some media coverage of the closures plan:
Evening Times, Glasgow:
Save our city jobcentres: Evening Times launches campaign to stop closures of vital service