Staff in 13 benefit and contact centres threatened with closure have been told they are to commence “meaningful consultation” with management. That is the first step on the road to redundancy.
The decision was posted on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website before the individuals affected had been told.
Members of the PCS union were shocked and angry.
There has been a serious failure to consult the union, which is in clear breach of the PCS agreement with the Cabinet Office.
No attempts have been made to redirect work or find alternative jobs, and 350 DWP staff could now be forced out of work.
At a time when unemployment has risen to 2.5 million, we need more staff and not less.
The affected sites are at Ayr, Arbroath, Castleford, Huyton, Chester, Luton, Caerphilly, Totton, Yeovil, Exeter, Cannock, Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield.
There are a further nine sites earmarked for closure, as well as 20 Jobcentres.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called management’s actions “reckless and provocative, particularly when there are centres that can’t cope and are recruiting new staff”.
Strikes need to be called urgently across the department in order to halt this process.