Socialist Worker

Jobcentre workers strike against closures in Sheffield

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2557

Strikers on the picket line in Sheffield

Strikers on the picket line in Sheffield (Pic: PCS union)


The general election has not stopped workers from taking up the fight for their rights—and that must continue whatever the result.

Jobcentre workers in Sheffield led the fight against civil service office closures with a strike on Friday of last week.

Members of the PCS union at the Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre walked out against the planned closure of their office.

PCS conference hears of workers actions and plans for more
PCS conference hears of workers' actions and plans for more
  Read More

It is one of 78 offices earmarked for closure by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Striker Clare Goonan told Socialist Worker that the closure will make life harder and put benefit claimants at greater risk of being sanctioned.

“The main people to be affected by the closure are the customers who will no longer receive a local service in walking distance from most of their homes,” she said.

“Some of our customers are unable to use public transport due to health conditions.”

Transferred

Workers will also have to travel further to reach the office they’re transferred to—meaning “extra time and cost added to their working week”.

The strike was a big success, with 70 out of 75 workers at the jobcentre refusing to work and up to 50 people on the picket line.

The strikers also had support from Disabled People Against Cuts campaigners.

Supporters from other jobcentres and DWP offices threatened with closure joined the picket line—showing the potential to build the fight across the DWP.

Whatever the result of the election, workers’ struggle must and will continue.

The Eastern Avenue workers are set to step up their fight with a week-long strike beginning next Monday. But if their battle against closure is to be successful, they cannot fight alone.

Office closures in the DWP and HM Revenue and Customs could mean mass job losses across the civil service.

Strong local campaigns to save offices have to grow into strikes such as the one at Eastern Avenue.

Crucially there have to be coordinated strikes across the civil service to stop office closures and job losses.

Whatever the result of the election, workers’ struggle must and will continue.


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