Members at DWP's Old Tree Court in Plymouth will strike on 21 and 22 December as 46 staff face redundancy from the partial closure of the site and transfer of jobs elsewhere.
Old Tree Court in Plymouth city centre houses Plymouth jobcentre and 349 “back of house” staff.
In January 2017 staff were informed that the department intended to close the site and seek new premises for the jobcentre. The bulk of the rest of the workforce would be relocated to Clearbrook House in the north of Plymouth, a site which is poorly accessible by public or private transport.
However on 5 July DWP announced that it had decided to retain the jobcentre and would also be retaining the third floor of the building in order to accommodate fraud staff from Devonport jobcentre a couple of miles away. But the existing back of house staff based there were still required to move to Clearbrook House, by early March 2018 at the latest. The move would result in around 46 redundancies.
PCS members voted to take strike action to protest against the forced moves and redundancies and the first strike was held on 6 November.
Further strike action will be held on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 December.
Redundancies completely avoidable
Branch secretary Jerry Crowley said: “We regard each redundancy as completely avoidable. The work is still there to do and we believe the "at risk” staff should be accommodated at their current workplace. Our members are resolved to fight this all the way to prevent further redundancies and to fight for their work/life balance which stands to be destroyed by a very difficult commute to and from work, and incurring increased travelling costs once the excess fares allowance expires.”
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS members in Plymouth are making a brave stand to keep their office open and avoid staff being made redundant.
“DWP senior managers, backed up by ministers, are pushing on with their office closure programme with scant disregard for the staff it employs.
“There is no need for the DWP to force staff to transfer across the other side of the city and make other staff redundant.
“We are determined to keep the office fully open.”
The dispute is part of the wider PCS campaign to protect offices, jobs and services to the public.
Updated at 11.28am on 19 December to include Mark Serwotka's quote.