Workers who manage people’s claims for the hated Universal Credit (UC) benefit began a two-day strike on Monday to win a better service for claimants.
PCS union members in Wolverhampton and Walsall Universal Credit centres say understaffing is causing people who rely on the benefit to “suffer”.
UC was introduced by the Tory government as a way of cutting benefits for some of the most vulnerable in society.
And now understaffing at the West Midlands centres is causing even more misery for claimants.
Strikers say they are frequently made to handle too many calls to the centre, leaving them with little time to clear their regular caseload.
This results in delays in payments. One striker told Socialist Worker, “Staffing levels are so poor that the claimants are not getting the service they deserve.”
He added, “Of about 150 case managers only ten went in.
“We’ve had lots of messages of support from other PCS branches and the Unite and Unison unions.”
Strikers are demanding 5,000 new staff and permanent contracts for temporary workers, and limits on the number of phone calls handled by each case manager.
“We want more staff to deliver a better service,” the striker said. “The people who suffer from understaffing are the claimants.”
- PCS union members at an HMRC tax office in Ealing are set to strike next Wednesday to stop the closure of their workplace.
The workers in west London plan a half day strike beginning at noon next Wednesday.
It is set to be followed by another half day strike on Tuesday 26 March, a full day on 3 April and a three day strike starting on 10 April.