DWP members in Sheffield will hold a rally tomorrow (17 November) outside the Eastern Avenue jobcentre as a final protest against its closure.
PCS members at the Eastern Avenue jobcentre have taken part in 44 days’ strike action in their campaign to try to prevent the closure of the site. The jobcentre closed to the public on 3 November causing confusion for service users, many of whom turned up at the jobcentre, unaware of its closure or the alternative arrangements put in place for them to access advice or claim benefits.
Striking PCS members joined together to march back into work today, one day before the office closes tomorrow. Members went back to work today because the legal mandate for industrial action mandate expired yesterday (15 November) and so any further action would have been unlawful under the Tory anti-union laws. The original intention had been to remain on strike until the office finally closed on 17 November.
Throughout the campaign members have been clear that their action was for the benefit of the community in which the jobcentre stands, and was not about jobs or money. Most staff will be deployed at other jobcentres within Sheffield.
Unite the Community described the strike action as a “courageous act of solidarity” as “any closure would transfer the costs to one of the poorest communities in the city and will make access to services more difficult.”
Dedication to public service
The rally at 1pm on Friday 17 November will be held outside the jobcentre and will be addressed by PCS officials and local Sheffield MP Louise Haigh who, along with other Sheffield MPs, has been supportive of the campaign to keep the office open.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“I am incredibly proud of the stand our Sheffield members made against the closure of this job centre. Their dedication to public service and the principled issue of serving a local community is inspiring. PCS believes the jobcentre closure programme should be halted. The DWP Minister needs to rethink the whole process of the Universal Credit roll out and jobcentre closure programme”