HUNDREDS MORE job centre workers in the PCS civil servants' union joined the indefinite strike for safety at work on Monday of this week. Workers at the government's new Pathfinder offices in Streatham and Brent in London have entered the eighth week of their strike against the removal of safety screens at work.
Hundreds more workers in the over 40 other Pathfinder offices around Britain joined the strike on the day the government officially launched the Jobcentre Plus scheme, which Pathfinder offices are a key part of. Over 40 people were on the picket line at the Winchester offices in Hampshire on Monday morning.
'We're on strike because we have to do a difficult job,' Rod Bacon, a branch officer of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight PCS branch, told Socialist Worker. 'We're frustrated that we have to oversee a means tested benefit system, where people on Incapacity Benefit are being coerced back to work. Some claimants take out their anger at this system on staff, and so we need the safety screens up. The mood is buoyant-everybody is on strike here.'
There were over 25 PCS members on the picket line in Bridgend in Wales, where 25 people joined the union in the run-up to the strike. 'It feels excellent to be part of a national strike,' said Martin Maguire, PCS rep for the Balham office in Streatham. 'It's just what we needed.'
The strike was in trouble on Thursday of last week when the PCS national disputes committee decided to call off the action.
Strikers from Brent and Streatham organised a 150-strong picket of the national executive committee (NEC) the next day. Under pressure from the strikers, the NEC narrowly decided to overturn the national disputes committee's decision and allow the strike to go ahead.
The NEC was due to meet on Thursday of this week to decide whether a ballot of all PCS members in job centres for strike action in support of the Pathfinder strike was to go ahead. There was to be a lobby of this meeting at 12.30pm.
Send messages of support to BA Strike Centre, PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, London SW11 2LN.