Socialist Worker

Eastern Avenue jobcentre walkout in Sheffield shows how to beat DWP cuts

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2563

Eastern Avenue workers on the picket line during a previous strike

Eastern Avenue workers on the picket line during a previous strike (Pic: pcs dwp sheffield)


Workers at a jobcentre in Sheffield began their second week-long strike on Monday.

It follows a decision by the Tory government to push ahead with an attack on jobcentre workers and benefit claimants across Britain.

PCS union members at the Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre are fighting to stop the closure of their office. It’s just one of 74 jobcentres set to close across Britain next year.

Tory minister Damian Hind confirmed the attack on Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offices this month.

Clare Goonan, a PCS rep at Eastern Avenue, told Socialist Worker that the announcement had left workers demoralised.

“The majority of us here weren’t feeling great,” she said. “Staff morale has gone down—there’s been no consultation, they’re just closing the office.”

Clare explained that workers at Eastern Avenue will be relocated to another office if the closure goes ahead.

Travel

Many will have to cut their hours due to the time it will take to travel to their new workplaces.

The move will also pile extra travel costs onto workers and claimants.

Clare said, “It’s going to cost an extra £15-20 a week in travel. It’ll add about an hour on to the time it takes to get to work, which is too much for people who have to do things like the school run.

“For a single parent who normally walks to work, the extra travel cost is about £60 a month out of their wages.”

The strike was still solid despite the attack—with just three people out of 45 workers at the jobcentre going to work.

But to win, the action needs to spread. The closure in Sheffield is part of a national attack on DWP workers. A plan to take on the whole cuts programme can beat it back.

Hundreds of jobs could be lost at other jobcentres and DWP offices once the closures start next March.

At very least there should be strike ballots at other offices affected. But the best way to win is a ballot for nationwide strikes across the DWP.


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