Eastern Avenue jobcentre in Sheffield closed its doors to the public today despite a long-fought campaign of strike action by PCS members.
PCS members working at the Eastern Avenue jobcentre took their 36th day of strike action today (3 November) and resolved to continue their picket lines until 17 November when the site will close to staff.
After 17 November staff will be moved to other sites, although there is now the possibility that this is being brought forward from some staff. This has not been communicated formally to PCS and we will be seeking clarity from management on this issue, as it had previously been stated that all staff would be transferred on the same date.
Throughout this week the picket line at Eastern Avenue has been well supported as in all previous weeks, with members and reps enjoying solidarity from PCS staff, national executive committee and group executive committee members as well as visits from local community groups, students, other PCS members and Louise Haigh MP.
Despite the office now being closed to the public, the campaign to keep it open will continue and it is hoped the impetus of the campaign will help motivate other members at threatened offices. On 6 November reps are asking as many members as possible to attend the picket line for a photo opportunity in support of the Plymouth jobcentre which is also taking action on that day.
National day of protest
On 10 November, PCS is holding a national day of protest to support Eastern Avenue. PCS is asking all PCS branches to hold a photo opportunity with their members using Don’t close Eastern Avenue jobcentre cards. The aim is to raise publicity for the campaign and to maximise the pressure on DWP not to close the jobcentre.
As benefit claimants and job seekers will now have to travel across Sheffield to an alternative job centre, the effect of the closure on service users will come into focus over the next two weeks.
Eastern Avenue PCS rep Jamie Godfrey said: “It isn't just work we help people find. We help our customers find a way out of deprivation in a community already ravaged by poverty and austerity.”