Socialist Worker

Brave Sheffield jobcentre struggle shows need for national fight

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2577

Taking a stand at Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre

Taking a stand at Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre (Pic: Neil Terry)

Workers at a Sheffield jobcentre began a four-week strike on Monday—a final stand against the closure of their office.

PCS union members at the Sheffield Eastern Avenue jobcentre have waged a brave fight against plans to close their office.

It’s just one of a raft of planned office closures across the Department for Work and Pension (DWP).

The workers announced their strike dates after being told last week the office closure was being moved forward to 17 November. And they learned on Monday that the closure would be brought even earlier—to next Friday.

PCS rep Clare Goonan told Socialist Worker, “It doesn’t make any difference to the strike because we’re striking on our principles.”

Jobcentre workers and users will relocate to another office in Sheffield city centre. The increased travel time will make it more likely for claimants to be late for appointments and get sanctioned.

Clare said, “The notification given to the customers will be the next letter they receive telling them to sign on at another office.

“We were hoping to be able to tell the majority of customers face to face so they would have an understanding of where the office was. Now that’s not going to happen.

“The customers we’re most concerned about are the long-term sick who only come in maybe every couple of years for an appointment.”

Some 14 strikers joined the picket line despite the coming closure.

They’re set to begin work again at the new office on Monday 20 November.

The Sheffield strikers showed strong determination.

But the likelihood of the closure shows that defeating the Tories’ attacks will take a coordinated fight across the DWP.

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