Workers at seven benefit processing sites are to strike for two days on 20 and 21 December against plans to turn them into call centres.
This major strike will involve 3,000 PCS union members in Bristol, Manchester, Chorlton, Makerfield, Newport, Norwich, Sheffield and Glasgow Springburn. There will also be action short of a strike.
Escalation is the key to winning this dispute.
The real issue for workers is the inferior working conditions imposed when working in the Jobcentre Plus call centre network.
The government says this is its “call centre network of choice”—in part because of the terrible working conditions. And there are plans for it to take work from other government departments.
The union already has clear policy to address this. Meetings have been held in the majority of the existing 30 call centres—and these have overwhelmingly supported the call to escalate the dispute throughout the network.
Indeed, in the better-organised areas, there is disappointment that these sites were not included in the original ballot.
Work to prepare these 30 sites for action is now taking place as a matter of urgency.
The group executive plans to meet again in mid-January to make a decision on escalation.