Members at Sheffield Eastern Avenue job centre have today (30 October) begun their 32nd day of strike action against DWP’s decision to close the jobcentre.
The strike is in opposition to DWP’s decision to close the Eastern Avenue jobcentre. Closing the jobcentre will remove a vital public service from an already deprived area of Sheffield. It will also force the claimants who use the office, many of whom are disabled or have young children, to make a much longer journey to access vital services.
The campaign against the office closure is getting strong backing from Sheffield MPs and other local politicians as well as good media coverage. Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, has asked further questions in parliament to find out from the minister what assessment has been made of the effect of the proposed closure of the jobcentre on the roll-out of universal credit in Sheffield. These follow the numerous questions raised by Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, who has previously tried to press the minister to provide answers around the closure of the site. Meanwhile the leader of Sheffield City Council, Julie Dore, has written to the DWP to make clear her strong opposition to the closure.
While most of the members can transfer to other job centres one member cannot, and she is now at risk of redundancy. The cleaning staff, who are also PCS members but employed by a private company, are also at risk of losing their jobs.
Members’ anger has been increased by the recent decision to bring forward the closure of the office to staff to 17 November. Last week contactors arrived to remove the desks from the jobcentre, and when asked not to cross the picket line, said that they had to cross for fear of being sacked.
The jobcentre will close to the public on 3 November. Rep Jamie Godfrey said: “Management have decided to close the doors to the public on 3 November. This will not alter our planned action and is another demonstration of a detached and heartless management rushing through the move without consideration for customers or staff. The vast majority of customers will not find out about the closure dates until their next appointment letters hit the doormats. So much for supporting the vulnerable!”
How you can help
- PCS is organising a protest day in support of the strike on Friday 10 November. All PCS branches will be asked to support the national protest day by holding a photo opportunity with members using “I’m supporting Eastern Avenue” cards, in a similar way to the national pay day protests.
- Messages of support should be sent to Leeds@pcs.org.uk
- Send donations to the strike fund to PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY.